2018 NFL mock draft: Baker Mayfield might be the Jets’ best option for a QB

Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

We had a trade. The New York Jets made a big play to get their quarterback of the future by trading multiple picks to the Indianapolis Colts for the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a smart gamble by the Jets, and an almost risk-free move for the Colts.

The trade means the top five of the draft is guaranteed to be loaded with quarterbacks. In fact, there’s a possibility that the first four picks could be quarterbacks, which would be a first.

The blockbuster deal isn’t the only thing that changed things up for this week’s mock draft. A big wave of free agency changed needs for many teams. Here’s how the moves impacted the draft:

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson are expected to be at Darnold’s pro day in Los Angeles Wednesday after skipping out on Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield’s pre-draft workouts. Maybe it’s nothing more than a notation, but there’s been nothing to dispel Cleveland’s potential interest in Darnold. Also, don’t forget Darnold passed on throwing at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has a little bit to prove to those in attendance.

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

It’s difficult to really gauge this pick. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley makes a lot of sense, as does Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. It’s just hard to get fully on board with a running back or guard having as much franchise value as a quarterback. That’s even considering that Eli Manning will play another season or two. Rosen is the draft’s best quarterback. Don’t get too cute.

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan did the near impossible by trading into the top five without having to give up the team’s 2019 first-round pick. Instead he is able to land a would-be franchise quarterback for the No. 6 pick and two second-round picks this year, and a second rounder next year. It’s a lot of picks, but not an ungodly ransom.

Still, the Jets face a dilemma if Darnold and Rosen are gone. Do they go with Mayfield and hope all the character questions are overblown or Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who needs developing? If Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles feel like they’re in win-now mode, Mayfield makes more sense.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

The Browns will field plenty of trade offers for this pick, especially if the Giants take a quarterback at No. 2. Trading down shouldn’t be out of the question, even if different front office regimes were responsible for moving back in three of the last four drafts. But moving back to 11 where Miami picks, or 12 where Buffalo picks, would cause the Browns to miss out on the draft’s elite talent. If they stay at No. 4, it’s wide open between Chubb, Barkley, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

How could Cleveland go about narrowing those four down? Barkley’s position is of low value in the NFL, and Cleveland just signed Carlos Hyde. Fitzpatrick could be considered redundant with new free safety signee Damarious Randall. Regarding Chubb, the Browns just used the first pick on defensive end in Myles Garrett a season ago, and Emmanuel Ogbah shows promise when healthy. Regarding Ward, Cleveland just gave a big deal to cornerback T.J. Carrie. You can poke holes in all of them. Chubb is the choice, simply because Ogbah is no sure thing and the combination of three pass rushers in certain situations is enticing.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

If Allen is gone, Denver should still feel good about the quarterback position because Case Keenum gives them some time. And who knows, maybe Paxton Lynch will develop into the player they expected after taking him in the first round. But if Allen is available, Denver may have a hard time saying no.

6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Colts will closely be watching what the Giants do with the second pick. If New York does take a quarterback, Indianapolis will be in a good spot. They can still get arguably the best player in the draft in Barkley and they have extra assets to replenish a roster that is light on talent.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Tampa Bay has added 10 free agents this offseason, including big-money center Ryan Jensen. They could really bolster their line with Nelson, giving them an interior he, Jensen and Ali Marpet.

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The choice for Chicago will likely be between a group of defensive players, including Ward, Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Even though the Bears gave Kyle Fuller a big four-year deal worth $56 million, pairing him with Ward would finally give Chicago an excellent pair on the outside.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Ideally the 49ers may hope that Nelson slides to them, or they can trade out and target an offensive lineman like Connor Williams of Texas or Isaiah Wynn of Georgia. If they stay here and the board falls in this fashion, it becomes a best player available choice. For me, it’s Fitzpatrick just over Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. Jimmie Ward’s fifth-year option may have been picked up, but he’s struggled to stay healthy and hasn’t been a consistent standout when he does play. Like Ward, Fitzpatrick can play a number of positions and give the 49ers flexibility.

10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State

There are a ton of possibilities for the Raiders with the 10th pick. This pick has typically been reserved for Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, but after signing Justin Ellis, he may not be the choice. James is a player Oakland could use as a hybrid safety/linebacker, letting him come up against the run or covering tight ends out of the backfield.

11. Miami Dolphins: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Miami will closely be watching what happens inside the top 10 to see if more trades materialize. If they think Buffalo or Arizona comes up for a quarterback, they may try to move up. But if they can stay at No. 11 and still get Jackson, they should do it. Ryan Tannehill’s health makes him too much of a question mark.

12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals:) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Bills are the big loser in New York’s jump up to the third pick. That means Buffalo might have to give up a huge amount of draft capital if they want to go get a quarterback. But if the cost is too steep — and they actually happen to really like AJ McCarron — they could build out their roster with two first-round choices.

If the Bills miss out on the quarterbacks, they are in a good spot to find a big-impact linebacker, whether it’s Edmunds or Roquan Smith of Georgia.

13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Re-signing Zach Brown may remove linebacker from the list of needs for Washington, but talent up front is still needed. Vea is considered by many as one of the top-10 players in this year’s draft thanks to his size, quickness and ability to stuff the run.

14. Green Bay Packers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Packers took a little off the need for a pass rusher because, at least for a season, Muhammad Wilkerson can provide some pressure on the line. That could open Green Bay up to taking Smith if he happens to be available. He’s a three-down linebacker with nearly limitless range.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

If the Cardinals miss out on the top five quarterbacks, they’ll probably get their franchise guy in 2019. They could have a lead wide out waiting for him in Ridley. An offensive lineman like Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame could be in play as well.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Baltimore took left tackle Ronnie Stanley in the first round in 2016 and can add his former teammate in McGlinchey this year. Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore could get a look as well, even considering Baltimore adding three receivers in free agency.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Chargers would probably love to see Smith or Edmunds available when they pick, but Payne fills a big need on the defensive line. He’s a pro-ready run stopper who at times flashed the ability to get after the quarterback.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Duane Brown was a smart addition for Seattle, but he may not be the long-term answer at left tackle. Williams, who could start his NFL career at guard, could be.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

A defensive lineman would be intriguing for the Cowboys, but finding a left guard is just as big of a need. Even on a loaded offensive line, Wynn could start straight and help improve the unit.

20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

A defensive tackle is obviously an option for the Lions, but a reunion between Landry and new Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni just makes sense. Pasqualoni was Landry’s position coach at Boston College the last two seasons, so no team is as familiar with Landry’s pass rush talent as Detroit.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Cincinnati may have signed Preston Brown to just a one-year deal, but that may eliminate a middle linebacker from the first round. If it does, the Bengals could add another player on the offensive line to go along with new acquisition Cordy Glenn. Hernandez is a mean, nasty guard who creates massive holes in the run game.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

An offensive lineman or cornerback is an option here, but wide receiver should be as well. The Bills don’t get much production from their wide outs, and Moore could quickly assert himself as a No. 1 option.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA

After shipping out Robert Quinn the Rams are in need of an edge rusher or two. They could get one in Davenport, who specializes in using a bull rush, length and quickness. He’s not a finished product by any means, but he can do enough to at least be a specialist to start his career.

24. Carolina Panthers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The Panthers tried to sign Bashaud Breeland, but he failed a physical and the deal was voided. That could leave the Panthers to look toward the draft for a corner. Jackson has good length and playmaking ability for the position.

25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

A pass rusher is often the choice for Tennessee, but with the departure of Avery Williamson, a linebacker has emerged as a big need. Evans is a technically sound linebacker who excels against the run and has experience on the inside and outside.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

There are several interior defensive linemen the Falcons could get if they hold at No. 26. Bryan may be the best of the bunch. His draft range starts at Dallas at No. 19. He would give Atlanta a powerful lineman who knows how to get into the backfield. His technique needs some work, but if anyone can coach it into him, it’s the Atlanta staff.

27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Unless one of the top edge players lands in the Saints’ lap, it’s still difficult to see them not taking a tight end. That’s especially true after New Orleans gave linebacker Demario Davis a three-year contract.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

Pittsburgh is doing work on safeties in the draft, and that includes having dinner with Bates before Wake Forest’s pro day last week. Free agent signing Jon Bostic could be a one-year rental while the team waits to learn about the future of Ryan Shazier. Bates would give them an athletic pass defender in the secondary.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

After the first week of free agency, the Jaguars are a team with few holes. They have Jermey Pernell at right tackle, but he could get pushed by a player like Brown.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, C/G Ohio State

The main goals of the Vikings this offseason, according to general manager Rick Spielman, were to add an offensive coordinator (John DeFilippo), quarterback (Kirk Cousins), and under tackle (Sheldon Richardson). In the draft Minnesota can now turn to the offensive line, the team’s biggest glaring weakness.

31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

A tall, athletic offensive tackle in Nate Solder just exited the Patriots for the Giants, so New England could see his carbon copy in Miller.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Although Philadelphia added Daryl Worley, he’s not a great slot replacement for the departed Patrick Robinson. Alexander would be. He’s a fluid athlete in coverage, and is more than willing to be aggressive and lay a hit.

NFL Draft 2018
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