Last week during the 2018 Senior Bowl, we were able to see some of the top seniors in the country showcase their talents. While there were quite a few that dropped out within the last days prior to the start of practice — it took a toll on certain prospects who many people might’ve viewed as first round talent — it was still a strong group of players on both teams. There were some that lived up to their expectations, some that completely took everyone by storm, and there were some that didn’t perform as well as expected going into it.
As we are four days away from the Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, we know 30 of the 32 first round picks, I went ahead and did a post-Senior Bowl mock draft before the big game on Sunday.
1.) Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
He is still very young and has a bit to tidy up in his game like his mechanics. Darnold throws with great anticipation and can make the throws at all 3 levels placing the ball in excellent position for his wide receivers. He has shown the ability to make full field reads but he will need to keep improving. Overall, Darnold has the potential to become a top tier Franchise quarterback in the NFL.
2.) New York Giants – Josh Rosen, UCLA
Despite the Giants cleaning house, there is no denying that Eli Manning is getting older and it’s time to move on very soon. Adding Rosen would give him an opportunity to sit behind Eli for a year, improve, learn and become one of the top quarterback’s in the NFL. Rosen has stellar mechanics, a good football IQ, an arm capable of making all throws required and does that with great anticipation. He should translate to the NFL well.
3.) Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb – NC State
This could be a very popular spot where the Colts decide to trade back. There have been talks of them willing to trade with a team that is trying to jump up into the top three, but in this case they stay put and select the best defensive player in this draft with Bradley Chubb.
Chubb can be a double digit sack a year kind of player. He is quick off the ball, holds the edge well and is quite effective in the running game. He has a high motor and good speed to chase down the more mobile quarterbacks in the league.
He knows when to utilize his pass rush moves, which he showed time and time again at North Carolina State and has the strength to push opposing linemen back into the quarterback’s face.
4.) Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The Browns need more help in their secondary and they drafted Jabrill Peppers last year hoping his athleticism and various other traits would help. While they’re playing Peppers out of place, he hasn’t been great which show they are not using his skill set appropriately. Drafting Minkah means he can step into the free safety position and Peppers can take the strong safety spot, where I feel he is better suited. He has the potential to be an elite play maker at that position, and he can also play cornerback, if needed. This is a much needed reboot to an up and coming defense.
5.) Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
We all know the Broncos quarterback situation is dismal and they need to address the position immediately. However, I believe they answer their quarterback woes in free agency. Quenton Nelson is huge addition to their offensive line. The Broncos drafted Garret Bolles last year to play LT and while Bolles hasn’t been bad, he hasn’t been great either. Throwing Nelson in at a left guard will solidify their left side of the line. They can then move Ronald Leary to right guard and their only real woe will be right tackle play, which they might also address in the draft. Nelson plays with that “nastiness”. Every snap, he has the attitude to put defensive linemen in the ground. He looks like a slam dunk pick as he is the best offensive lineman in the draft.
6.) New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
The Jets’ quarterback depth chart is still very slim as the only quarterback worth mentioning is Josh McCown, who is 36 and has never been a true starter throughout his career. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner has shown great energy, passion and leadership qualities.
Despite showing late to the Senior Bowl, he still out shined during the three days of practices, and was limited to two series during the actual game. Mayfield will have a lot of improving to do to have success in the NFL as he will need to work on his footwork, throw into tight windows, go through multiple reads and be able to read defenses pre-snap.
Mayfield isn’t a slump at quarterback though. Being a two-time walk on player to Heisman Trophy Winner, the man has work ethic and passion: two unique qualities found in all great players throughout the league, and a guy that can take over the New York Jets.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Arden Key, LSU
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked last in sacks in the NFL, and improving getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a must for them. With Bradley Chubb off the board, Arden Key becomes the next guy available in terms of talent at the position. Key has an explosive first step and bends around the edge well, getting to quarterbacks with plenty of speed. He also is decent against the run. Key will develop into a game changer on their defense and make an impact up front.
8.) Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The Chicago Bears have their quarterback of the future in Mitch Trubisky, and they must surround him with talent to give him the best opportunity to succeed. Kevin White hasn’t worked out so far due to injury concerns.
The receiver has only played four games in three seasons and they need someone who can become Trubisky’s favorite and reliable target. Insert Calvin Ridley, the best receiver in this draft class. Ridley can run every route, has good speed, phenomenal hands, as well as get behind defenders for over the top 50/50 balls.
9.) San Francisco 49ers – Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The San Francisco 49ers found the answer at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo towards the end of last season, and he exceeded many people’s expectations. Carlos Hyde, while isn’t a terrible running back he just hasn’t shown enough to not improve at the position, and has had injury concerns throughout his career. Saquon Barkley is that improvement. He is a complete runner and shows great patience, vision and the ability to run through the tackles. He also runs with power and doesn’t hesitate to drop the shoulder in the tackle and offers great pass protection for a running back. Barkley is an elite play maker and shows spurts of generational talent. Barkley would fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and offers more versatility. Adding him will help Garoppolo’s continued development as their franchise guy immensely as it will take the pressure of him having to throw to win every game.
10.) Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, Georgia
The Oakland Raiders have a lot of pieces to fill on their defense, but the linebacker position needs to be addressed. Roquan Smith gives the Raiders a linebacker, who is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine and clean up artist. He is constantly around the field cleaning up tackles and showing the ability to play pass coverage as well. While Navarro Bowman added a presence to their defense this past season, he becomes a free agent in 2018 so adding Smith would be a huge upgrade at the middle linebacker position. He is a very well-rounded prospect and would be a key figure on the Raiders defense.
11.) Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
The linebacker depth is very slim for the Miami Dolphins, despite selecting Raekwon McMillan, who tore his ACL. Lawrence Timmons hasn’t lived up to his expectations and in comes Tremaine Edmunds. B
eing the youngest player entering the draft, weighing in at 6’5 250LBs with good length that can be used effectively on various techniques required for a linebacker like block shedding, wrapping up tacklers, Edmunds shows he is going to be a very intriguing prospect.
He has the ability to play both inside and outside linebacker. He is always around the football, whether that’s as a pass rusher, stopping the run or dropping back into coverage, and he shows that he can be a physical force to Miami’s defense for many years to come.
12.) Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, Texas
The Cincinnati Bengals must improve their offensive line. There’s a few other positions like most teams that they could be picking for here, but I think they would like to improve their offensive line play and Connor Williams offers improvement. Williams is excellent at run blocking and loves to maul defenders into the ground. He has quick feet, good balance and has a good slide technique to keep him in front of rushing defenders. This would be a huge acquisition to help keep Andy Dalton upright, and pave running lanes for Joe Mixon.
13.) Washington Redskins – Josh Jackson, Iowa
After the surprise trade of Alex Smith, the Redskins lost their top cornerback in Kendall Fuller. The trade caught everyone off guard, but one of their big priorities will be filling that spot in their depth chart. This is where the first cornerback will be taken in Josh Jackson. Jackson is a pretty well-rounded corner who has a knack for interceptions tallying seven in season 2017. He has great ability to track the ball in the air thus adding to his turnover ability. He played mostly zone coverage for Iowa, but they did have him play man as well, which he suits. He also doesn’t refrain from tackling and does a heck of a job at wrapping up ball carriers. Jackson will fit right in and can start day one. He has nice length and a good frame and could develop into a #1 corner.
14.) Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, UTSA
Adding an athletic talent to the defensive line has been a need for the Green Bay Packers. Marcus Davenport has been a fast board riser, who improved his stock after a good showing at the Senior Bowl. He is aggressive and takes on offensive blockers with a lot of fight and power. Quick off the line, Davenport has an array of pass rush moves, which helps him get into the backfield. He uses great technique to gain leverage and makes pushing his opponent into the backfield look easy. This would be a great addition up front for the Packers.
15.) Arizona Cardinals – Josh Allen, Wyoming
There has been a big question mark surrounding the quarterback situation in Arizona. After Carson Palmer’s retirement, they have been left with Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. Finding a starter ends here at 15, when they select Josh Allen. Josh Allen has an elite caliber arm, typical NFL size and played in a pro-style offense at Wyoming.
The talent surrounding Allen at Wyoming wasn’t there and his play this last season wasn’t impressive at all, but he has everything teams are looking for in a quarterback to develop and mold. His highlight reel is full of big throws that makes people go “wow!” After an impressive Senior Bowl game performance, he has scouts assuming that he is for real. Putting him in Arizona would allow him to succeed with surrounding talent like Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.
16.) Baltimore Ravens – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Finding good wide receivers for Joe Flacco has always been an issue for the Baltimore Ravens. Breshad Perriman hasn’t really contributed since being drafted, Jeremy Maclin didn’t meet people’s expectations upon his arrival from Kansas City and Mike Wallace can’t seem to be consistent. Ravens offense needs more than anything is a playmaker, and that’s why Christian Kirk makes sense here. Kirk is a smaller receiver, but he can take anything to the house. He has excellent body control, consistently outran his competition, showed good leaping ability, and has excellent agility. He can make things happen in the open field off a short pass. His return ability is unmatched in this class as well. Kirk would provide an explosive element to a Ravens offense that desperately needs it.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, Washington
The Los Angeles Chargers finished near the bottom of the NFL in terms of run defense. A big part of that has come from the Chargers lack of penetration up front to clog up holes from Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane. Mebane isn’t getting any younger, and Liuget has lacked production the past couple of years. Vita Vea is a big tough, thick, strong defender who uses his size well to eat up blockers. He is strong at the point of attack and has good gap integrity. He is strong enough to push blockers right back and is a force on the defensive line. He has a high motor and gives maximum effort on every snap. Adding him to Gus Bradley’s defense would be a great addition to the interior defensive line.
18.) Seattle Seahawks – Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The Seahawks have had one of the worst offensive lines in football and Russell Wilson isn’t capable of playing backyard football his whole career to carry the team, and the lack of the running game has shown as well. Eventually getting hit all the time will catch up with Wilson and Seattle’s running backs. Insert Mike McGlinchey. While the Seahawks traded for Duane Brown, who is good when healthy and drafted center Ethan Pocic, who also looked good, the rest of the line is lacking significantly. Taking McGlinchey offers them a someone to play at right tackle with the idea of replacing Brown when he is hurt or when he regresses. McGlinchey run blocks well and sustains his blocks with good effect. He had 3 years of starting experience and has good football intelligence, which is why he is the most ready out of the offensive linemen class. You can plug him in day one and can expect solid tackle play that the Seahawks desperately need.
19.) Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys could use a variety of different players at this spot including a defensive back, a linebacker or a defensive lineman. While they seem to have their edge rushers set, the interior defensive line lacks and that’s why Da’Ron Payne would make a huge difference. Payne isn’t as superior of a pass rusher as he is in terms of being a run stuffer. He can take on multiple blocks and is dominant against the run. But, with good athletic ability and having him and David Irving in the middle, it will free up the Cowboys’ pass rushers immensely. He will shine as a 3 technique.
20.) Detriot Lions – Harold Landry, Boston College
There is a massive need for better edge-rushers for the Detroit Lions. Ezekiel Ansah is a free agent, and while he did show improved play once healthy this season, he’s a question mark moving forward. With the arrival of their new head coach, expect Matt Patricia to add pieces around his defense and that’s why Harold Landry fits his mold. Landry is a pure speed rusher with great bend and dip and has potential to be a double digit a year sack player. He fell due to an injury that occurred throughout the season, but expect him to make some noise for their defense. He’s a natural pass-rusher who can play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 base defense and be an asset off the right edge.
21.) Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, Michigan
After selecting Lamar Jackson, the Buffalo Bills go and seek the replacement for former Bill and now present Jaguar, Marcell Dareus. Maurice Hurst is the perfect replacement and will fill that void and be a dominant piece on the Bills’ defensive front for years to come. Hurst is so quick off the snap that sometimes he can be in the backfield before the opposing linemen have gotten out of their stance. He is typically undersized for a NFL defensive tackle but that hasn’t stopped players like Aaron Donald from being a dominant defensive play maker. The Bills will benefit from his impact plays and constant tackles for loss as he gets into the backfield so often. He is capable of being great at the next level.
22.) Buffalo Bills via Kansas City Chiefs – Lamar Jackson, Louisville
There have been talks of the Buffalo Bills letting go of Tyrod Taylor. If that’s the case, Nathan Peterman doesn’t seem to be the answer and it has been mentioned that they will pursue a quarterback in the draft. Selecting Lamar Jackson here would be a great fit for the Bills.
There have been the talks of him being a wide receiver in the NFL because he can win with his legs, and while that may be absurd, writing him off as a quarterback at this point is simply ridiculous. Houston Texans star quarterback DeShaun Watson certainly thinks Jackson can excel at the next level.
Sure, he’s not a polished passer and he struggles with inaccuracy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the most productive college quarterbacks of all time. Jackson looks and plays like a right-handed Michael Vick and have been statements that he might be better. He is super talented and with the right coaching and system, Jackson could become a star.
23.) Los Angeles Rams – Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
With Trumaine Johnson set to be a free agent he will be seeking a big pay day that the Rams might not decide to pay him. Even if they do retain Johnson, I think they will be looking to improve their depth at the cornerback position, and this is when they select Isaiah Oliver. Oliver has excellent size and length for the NFL as well as great speed to close on balls in the air or to follow receivers. He is good in coverage and doesn’t shy away from getting physical in the tackle. Wade Phillips’ defense employs a fair share of man coverage and Oliver will excel in his scheme and can eventually develop into being their #1 cornerback.
24.) Carolina Panthers – Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The Carolina Panthers are one of the most zone coverage using teams in the NFL and Jaire Alexander is the best zone cover corner in the draft being a great selection here. He is a ball hawk in his own right. He can snuff out routes on zone coverages and is best when reacting to the ball. He is a solid tackler for his size and was used to blitz by Louisville from time to time. Alexander will make a very nice addition to the Panther’s defense and will improve their secondary, making the #2 corner spot his own and forming a nice pair with James Bradberry.
25.) Tennessee Titans – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
The Tennessee Titans need to add some youth to their linebackers as Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are not getting any younger. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was stellar at the Senior Bowl as he showed he has the most dynamic speed and bend combination among outside pass-rushers in this draft class and is totally comfortable in coverage and defending against wide receiver screens near the sideline. Having outside linebackers who can do more than rush off the edge is key in the NFL today. Bringing the heat as a pass rusher, combined with the ability to drop into coverage fills a big need for the Titans.
26.) Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, Florida
One piece that will likely be addressed this offseason is the defensive tackle position for the Atlanta Falcons. The team is facing attrition with Dontari Poe, Courtney Upshaw, and Ahtyba Rubin being unrestricted free agents. Which could possibly leave one of those three as the only pure defensive tackles on the roster. Taven Bryan shot up people’s boards midway through the season. Bryan has excellent size and length for the NFL, who uses his body well penetrating the pocket with a good first step and great snap awareness. In run defense, he has been noted to tie up blockers commonly, which will allow the linebackers to roam free and create havoc. Selecting him near the end of the first is going to be his range after he tests at the Combine and his Pro Day.
27.) New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, Alabama
For the New Orleans Saints, finding another linebacker will be a priority, and while the Saints defense has made huge strides this year, Rashaan Evans could help them get even better as he’s shown the ability to play all over the field. He can come down and shed blocks to stop the run has good enough athleticism to drop in coverage, blitzes extremely well with good speed and tenacity.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Deshon Elliott, Texas
The future of Mike Mitchell with the Pittsburgh Steelers will be worth following this offseason, with a large salary cap number next year the chance he returns has decreased tremendously. This selection could be used to draft a linebacker ever since the incidence with Ryan Shazier. Deshon Elliott is a big hitter that can cause turnovers that is versatile would benefit the Steelers secondary. He also gives great run support, range, and tackling ability they lack in the back of their secondary. Ideally, the best position that fits DeShon Elliott is at free safety, making plays near the line of scrimmage and being active around the ball as much as possible.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, UTEP
Upgrading the interior offensive line will be key for the Jacksonville Jaguars. By taking an interior offensive lineman that may mean the Jaguars do not bring back free agent Patrick Omameh. At 330 pounds, Will Hernandez is big, strong, powerful and an excellent run and pass blocker. He would certainly help an improved offensive line. He would also help with run blocking, since Leonard Fournette is more of straight-ahead type runner. After a great showing at the Senior Bowl, I expect his draft stock to sky rocket.
30.) Minnesota Vikings – Billy Price, Ohio State
After a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings are heading into the offseason with a few holes to fill. One of those being their interior offensive line. Their current right guard, Joe Berger is 35 and isn’t getting any younger. Drafting Billy Price allows them to move Pat Elflein to guard, where he should already have good chemistry with Price as they played together at Ohio State. Price is a 3-year starter who hasn’t missed a game. He is very solid at all aspects of his position and he doesn’t do anything elite, but he does everything very well. Price has the potential to be a cornerstone on the Vikings offensive line and start for the next ten years.
31. Philadelphia Eagles – Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan
With Jason Peters tearing both his ACL and MCL and knowing he is 36 years old, there’s a strong possibility people may not see Peters on the field again. The Eagles will be hoping that isn’t the case, but protecting Carson Wentz and continuing to create holes for their running game is a must and selecting Chukwuma Okorafor helps with that. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has played well in Peters absence’ setting up a good battle for the starting spot between him and Okorafor.
Okorafor weighs in at 330 pounds, which he holds very well, and he uses it well to move defenders off the line. When he gets his hands on defenders, there’s no escape and he fields massive hands. Okorafor has great feet, moves well and holds his ground very well against rushing defenders. One area he needs to improve is protecting the inside gap. There are times where the pass rusher is able to counter inside and find success. Nonetheless, this would address a big need for the Eagles.
32.) New England Patriots – Denzel Ward, Ohio State
SURPRISE! With the last pick of the first round, the New England Patriots shock the world (no surprise) and address their need at cornerback before getting a pass rusher. This will come after Malcolm Butler’s departure once the Super Bowl is over. Ward is very quick and can keep toe to toe with even the quickest receivers. He uses his length to break up balls in the receiver’s hands or in the air very well. He will need to improve his locating of the ball though as he might get his fair sure of penalties if he doesn’t learn to turn his head while defending. Butler and Ward have their similarities in terms of being great man-to-man coverage cornerbacks, have excellent hips, technique and love to compete.