After months of rumors and speculation—and hundreds of phone calls on my end—we’re only nine days away from the 2018 NFL draft. And here’s what I know for sure: Much of what will unfold within the top-10 picks rides on what the Giants do at No. 2. Last week, Peter King and I mocked up four different top-12 scenarios. If you want to zero in on what GM Dave Gettleman could do, there are three.
Take a quarterback: If the team does this, the chance that QBs go 1-2-3-4 intensifies. We’d know at that point that quarterbacks would go 1-2-3, and that could create a feeding frenzy for the fourth pick, where Browns GM John Dorsey could get the proverbial offer he can’t refuse from a QB-hungry team desperate for one of this year’s Big 4.
Trade the pick: Gettleman has said he wants to draft a player with “gold jacket” potential, and that would seem to limit how far he’d want to go down. But I’m told the Giants have done work on players like UTSA DE Marcus Davenport, which at least tells you they’ve bounced the idea around. If they were to trade the pick? Then we’d have QBs going 1-2-3, but one QB suitor comes off the market, and so the fourth QB could slip a bit.
Take a non-QB: I’ll say that I think that player would be Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. “Dave said he wants a guy he can envision in a gold jacket, and there are two guys in this draft like that; and really, to me, it’s one—Barkley,” said one AFC exec on Tuesday. “[Quenton] Nelson’s gonna be damn good, but he’s not perfect.” If Barkley’s the pick? Well, then we could see a small quarterback slide.
Oh, and that third scenario? That’s what I’m projecting in this mock draft. How far would the quarterbacks fall? My fourth mock draft of the 2017-18 academic year is right here for you …
1. Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Crumbs of evidence are everywhere on this. Another one: Owner Jimmy Haslam has been asking around about Allen.
2. N.Y. Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Toughest team to peg. Darnold being available throws a wrench in things. But new GM Dave Gettleman said he wants a Hall of Famer …
3. N.Y. Jets (via Colts): Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Question of Josh Rosen vs. Baker Mayfield is solved in the building with the safest QB’s presence on the board.
4. Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
Browns get more than a potentially great rusher—they also get someone who could make Myles Garrett better.
5. Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Denzel Ward, Quenton Nelson, trade down … Word is Elway confidantes Gary Kubiak and Matt Russell love Mayfield.
6. Colts (via Jets): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Chubb would make the call easy for Chris Ballard. I think he’d feel good about Smith or Tremaine Edmunds here.
7. Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Demar Dotson’s injury puts Nelson in play. Derwin James is too. But Fitzpatrick is safe/ideal for Mike Smith.
8. Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Nelson—a great value this late into the top 10—gets to play for his college line coach, and gets the nod over Ward.
9. Bills (via 49ers): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Brandon Beane is looking at all options to deal up. This one won’t require giving up both his 1s .
10. Raiders: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The hope of Smith falling seems to be slowly dying. And Oakland has quietly done its work on this freakish athlete.
11. Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Drumbeat on Miami’s Mayfield love is persisting, and I think Rosen also would be a consideration. Vea’s pretty good too.
12. 49ers (via Bills): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
John Lynch recoups the 2 he dealt for Jimmy G., and gets a player whom he might have taken at 9.
13. Redskins: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Lots of teams in the top 10 really like the smallish Ward, and the Redskins could use him to replace Kendall Fuller.
14. Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Green Bay telegraphed its corner lust with the Kyle Fuller offer sheet. New DC Mike Pettine wants man-cover guys.
15. Cardinals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
If Arizona can’t move up for a quarterback, it needs to get protection for the injury-prone one it has.
16. Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Surprise! Baltimore has an aging QB with a bad back who hasn’t played very well as of late. Time to look to the future.
17. Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
DC Gus Bradley gets a Kam Chancellor clone, with a dice-roll that James can become the player he was pre-injury.
18. Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson’s testing scores weren’t great, and that’s hurt his stock, but he’s a fantastic fit for Pete Carroll’s defense.
19. Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Courtland Sutton will tempt Dallas, but Ridley gives them a receiver more ready to step in now for Dez Bryant.
20. Lions: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
I believe new head coach Matt Patricia will give his players an example of what he’s looking for with this pick. And Payne fits that.
21. Bengals: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins are getting older, so the Bengals need pressure players up front.
22. Bills: James Daniels, G/C, Iowa
The payoff for being patient in trading up is a guy who could be a 10-year cornerstone at one of two positions of need.
23. Patriots (via Rams): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Had Miller going 31st to the Pats in my last mock. His stock has risen, so New England takes no chances.
24. Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Carolina has done work on a lot of interior linemen. Hernandez can slide right into Andrew Norwell’s old spot.
25. Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans is a versatile piece who’s a good example of what new coach Mike Vrabel will want in his front-seven players.
26. Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Atlanta lost Dontari Poe, and we all know the premium Dan Quinn puts on building depth on his defensive front.
27. Saints: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
New Orleans has flexibility to go a bunch of different ways. Alexander would pair well with Marshon Lattimore .
28. Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Pittsburgh’s got a hole left by the injury to Ryan Shazier, and Vander Esch is the perfect guy to fill it.
29. Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton’s not a finished product by any means, but his physical traits make him a heck of a get for the Jags here.
30. Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Vikings still could use some offensive line help, and Williams could start at guard, and evolve into a left tackle.
31. Patriots: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
At best, the Patriots are now year-to-year with Rob Gronkowski , which makes tight end a need spot.
32. Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Jay Ajayi’s in a contract year, and so this pick comes looking a year down the line, with a trade out of the first round also possible.
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