It is now the time where we over-analyze what happened at the combine recently. A guy who is a first round talent may drop to the 3rd Round because he ran a slow 40 yard dash. A guy who was not even on some board maybe a draft steal because of his broad jump. Your favorite player may switch the position he’s always played because that what some teams want to see him as. Forget all that. Here is my NFL Mock Draft, and feel free to disagree and let me know at @AChristianJones on Twitter. These include trades and possible free agency moves as well.
Pick 1-Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
This just makes the most sense. I feel as if the Browns will probably trade the 4th pick, or at least it’s the smart thing to do, but even Cleveland can’t screw this up. Sam Darnold is the best quarterback prospect in the draft, and although he struggled last year at times, I believe that he has a lot of potential. This maybe a lazy comparison, but you could see him becoming the NFL’s next Carson Palmer. He won’t have many weapons his first year with the Browns, but I’m willing to bet that they don’t go 0-16 next year. This is a very safe pick that could really pay off.
Pick 2-New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
I don’t think you see the Giants look for Eli’s replacement yet. You’ll likely see the Manning-Beckham duo come back next year. However, it is time to equip Eli with a running back threat he hasn’t had since Ahmad Bradshaw. Saquon Barkley deserves to go this high. I don’t usually put a lot of stock into the combine, but goodness gracious. Dude finished near the top in every category, including vertical jump, bench press, and 40 yard dash. I don’t admire it because of the results, but its clear to me that he works hard. Probably the best player in the draft.
Pick 3-Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
New head coach Frank Reich is an offensive mind. A lot of people don’t give him enough credit for working with Carson Wentz to make him an MVP candidate last season. Most think that Bradley Chubb should be the pick here, and I don’t think it would be a bad choice at all. However, I’m going with Quentin Nelson. Jacoby Brissett was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL last year, and Andrew Luck tied for 2nd most sacks in 2016. Frank Reich wants to protect the new toy he has in Luck, especially with his injury history, and he’ll probably try to do that in the first round.
(TRADE) Pick 4-Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Buffalo will try to trade ahead of Denver to pick their QB of the future. It’s obvious that Tyrod won’t be back, and Nathan Peterman threw 5 picks in his FIRST NFL GAME. The Bills could wait to possibly snag maybe Baker Mayfield, but they’ll go with the Rosen one. Rosen is good. He had a nice year last year, including engineering maybe the best comeback I’ve seen in college football. I believe that his head is in the game and he doesn’t make terrible decisions often. This should be a decent pick for a team who made the playoffs last year.
Pick 5-Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Ugh. This was the hardest pick to project. I believe that if John Elway wanted any of these quarterbacks in this draft, it would probably be Rosen. I don’t like this pick as much because I believe that Denver is literally a QB away from competing in the AFC again, but at the same time, Josh Allen is not the answer right away, and I don’t know if the Broncos have the patience to work with him. It’d be easier to go with an AJ McCarron or a Tyrod Taylor. Quenton Nelson’s already off the board, and they would reach for an offensive tackle either. You could see this pick traded to someone else.
With that being said, I believe that Allen is the most raw quarterback, but he may have the highest upside. He’s a big dude with a huge arm, and if Denver works with him, this could be an amazing investment. I just hope he wouldn’t be drafted to the Browns, because then he would probably become JaMarcus Russell.
Pick 6-New York Jets: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If you’re the Jets, you’re ecstatic with this pick overall. It fills a need and also is maybe the best player available at this point. Muhammad Wilkerson is gone, and he fits in immediately to add another piece to a budding defense. I don’t think the Jets go quarterback with this pick because I believe they get Kirk Cousins over the off-season. Chubb is a monster who can get after the quarterback, especially in a division that plays Tom Brady twice a year. The Jets couldn’t complain after this one.
Pick 7-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Would not be surprised at all if the Bucs go Marcus Davenport here. However, I think that cornerback is a bigger need here, because they have to face Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Greg Olsen and maybe Jimmy Graham twice a year. Develop a shutdown corner who can cover those guys. Ward is a little shorter at 5’10, but he has one thing that you can’t coach: speed. That speed is going to come in handy in the NFL, and Ohio Sate corners have a history of doing well immediately in the NFL. Ward has good ball skills that could instantly make him an asset in Tampa Bay.
Pick 8-Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The main priority this off-season in Chicago should be to get Mitchell Trubisky some help. Some may call drafting Calvin Ridley in the top 10 a reach, but I don’t think so. Ridley is a fantastic deep ball receiver that runs very precise and crisp routes. He didn’t have ridiculous stats at Alabama because Jalen Hurts isn’t really a deep throwing quarterback, but the talent is obviously there. This isn’t a bad pick by any means, and Ridley will build a relationship with Trubisky that ultimately makes him a better quarterback.
Pick 9-San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S/STAR, Alabama
John Lynch might cry if Fitzpatrick falls all the way down to nine. The 49ers have their QB of the future in Garoppolo, and they could also go Marcus Davenport here as well, but Fitzpatrick’s just too good to pass up on, and Lynch, who was a former safety himself will see that. Minkah Fitzpatrick is regarded by many as the best overall football player in this draft. He can play safety, corner, nickel and even a little at pass rusher as well. His best attribute though? Preparation. The guys studies the game and his opponents so well, that coaches will fall in love with him on Day 1. Perfect pick for San Francisco.
Pick 10-Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
I really considered putting Derwin James right here, but I’ll go with the safe bet and put Roquan Smith in Oakland. Smith is a baller. There are a few games that you can look at for the Bulldogs last year, where he was the best player on the field, including the Rose Bowl. Smith makes plays in crucial moments, and there was a reason he was the Butkus Award winner last year. A few scouts may say he’s undersized, but the same was said about Deion Jones. Smith is a natural playmaker for the defense, and can pair with Khalil Mack for years to come.
NFL Mock Draft Part II coming soon.