Welcome to my first mock edition of this year’s NFL Draft.
I will be doing three mock drafts:
1.0 – Prior to Free Agency
2.0 – After Free Agency
3.0 – Before the Draft/Final Mock
Here, is who I believe each team will/should take in this year’s NFL Draft prior to Free Agency signings (even though some moves have already been announced).
1) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold – QB, USC
The Browns recently acquired Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills for a third round pick, and he will likely be the starting quarterback this year – this would now be a perfect situation for Darnold. He could sit for a year, learn the playbook and be eased into the starting position, similarly to Jared Goff and Deshaun Watson.
For me, Darnold’s prototypical size, tools, and upside separate him from the other quarterback’s in this draft. Darnold has good arm strength, can be extremely accurate and is mobile in the pocket. He is already capable of reading defences and exploiting weaknesses.
One thing which impresses most scouts, and which all rookie quarterback seem to struggle with is looking off safeties. When Jon Gruden sat Deshaun Watson down for his ‘QB Camp’, he spoke about throwing the ball downfield without looking off the free safety – you can’t do that in NFL – guys like Earl Thomas, HaHa Clinton Dix, Harrison Smith and the Honey Badger will read your eyes and pick you off.
What makes Darnold special is that he will take what the defence gives him. He scans the full field and eyes don’t get bogged down on a single target and he does not fear a single throw. He Trusts his arm and placement and is naturally accurate with tight spirals.
Darnold shows all the quality leadership and poise that you want in your franchise quarterback.
His main knock is his high turnover numbers in college, when he threw 22 interceptions and lost 14 fumbles in 27 starts. Darnold did not throw at the NFL Combine as he wanted to focus on athletic testing and interviews. Not good. You want your quarterback to be mentally tough and confident in their abilities – the fact he does not want to throw tells me a lot.
I actually am a big Tyrod Taylor fan, and do believe he could a decent starting quarterback. If the Browns don’t love any of these quarterbacks, then they should take SaQuon Barkley with this pick.
NFL Comparison – Andrew Luck
2) New York Giants: Josh Rosen – QB, UCLA
The Giants will seriously consider taking SaQuon Barkley here, and if I was a betting man I would put money on the Giants drafting him with the #2 pick.
However, that would be the wrong decision.
Eli Manning is at the wrong side of 30 is in serious decline. New Giants coach, Pat Shurmur, has indicated that he wants to keep Manning on for one more year, which could help Rosen to sit for a year, learn the playbook and prepare him in becoming the Giants franchise quarterback.
Rosen may be the best pure passer in the draft. He completed 63 percent of his passes when blitzed in 2017 – that’s incredibly impressive, these numbers were also negated by 31 drops from his receivers. Right now, Rosen has the best quarterback mechanics, even better than Darnold’s.
He has all the traits that you look for in a franchise quarterback – extremely confident and intelligent. Good quarterbacks have the ability to throws receivers open and Rosen has showed he can do that.
His slight build is a concern, can he be durable in the NFL? Another concern is his lack of accuracy on the deep ball. If you are throwing it up to Odell Beckham Jr, you want to be able to master that throw.
NFL Comparison – Matt Ryan
3) Buffalo Bills (via Indianapolis): Josh Allen – QB, Wyoming
The Colts have glaring needs at every position except quarterback, and therefore I have the Buffalo Bills sending the Colts the 12th and 22nd pick in this year’s draft to take a risk on Josh Allen at #3.
The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor this past week, which makes it even more clear to me that they will be very aggressive in pursuing their franchise quarterback in this year’s draft. I initially went with Baker Mayfield as their guy, but on second thought – I think they take Allen. I don’t believe they will want Mayfield, an unconventional rollout quarterback not too dissimilar from Tyrod Taylor.
Whilst I believe Josh Allen is the 5th best quarterback in this draft, I think Allen is the best fit in Buffalo unless Darnold or Rosen are still available.
His size and arm talent are prototypical for early first-round picks, but it’s tough to find a quarterback with such a low college completion rate become a successful pro (56%).
Allen is certainly capable of becoming a great thrower in the NFL and he definitely has the upside to become the best QB in this draft, but his ability to improve the mental part of his game will determine whether he’s a good NFL starter or just another big, strong-armed guy.
What worries me the most about Allen is that whenever he played against above average defences in college he would played poorly. I personally am not too high on Allen, but I think he is a better fit for the Bills more so than the two QB’s I have above him.
A team to keep an eye out for a surprising trade-up – the Saints. They really wanted Patrick Mahomes and they know Brees does not have many years left in him.
NFL Comparison – Jay Cutler
4) Cleveland Browns (via Houston): SaQuon Barkley – RB, Penn State
The Browns got their franchise quarterback, and now they get their playmaker and the best overall player in the draft.
According to Barstool Sports, an anonymous NFL Coach literally said: “I would punch myself in the nuts many, many times to be able to draft SaQuon Barkley.”
The running back blew scouts out of the water last week with some absolutely absurd numbers at the combine. He benched more than Luke Kuechly, ran a faster 40 than Ezekiel Elliott and leaped higher than Odell Beckham Jr.
SaQuon Barkley is an electrifying playmaker with explosive speed and a versatile skill set, equally adept carrying the ball between the tackles or lining up on the outside and running routes as a pass catcher.
The Browns’ new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, could deploy Barkley in a similar fashion to how he utilized Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh—making him a threat all over the field. Paired with Duke Johnson, another flexible run/pass option, Barkley and Cleveland’s offense could become very watchable, intriguing and most importantly – dangerous.
The Browns would have a pretty formidable offensive trio in Darnold-Barkley-Gordon.
Like the Giants, the Browns may consider taking Barkley with their first pick – knowing that one of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield will be available at #4.
NFL Comparison – David Johnson/LaDanian Tomlinson
5) Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson – OG, Notre Dame
I expect the Broncos to address their quarterback issues in free agency with either Sam Bradford or Case Keenum joining on a one-year ‘prove it’ contract.
The Broncos have a ton of needs, but their biggest might just be their offensive line – they need another guard to go with Ronald Leary.
This may seem a bit too early for a guard, but Nelson is the best player in this class behind Saquon Barkley. Denver desperately needs to improve its blocking, and Nelson will certainly do that in the run game and protecting the quarterback.
Nelson is the best guard to enter the draft since Zach Martin, and some league sources say that he is the highest graded guard they have ever scouted.
Coaches always say that games are won and lost in the trenches. You get Nelson, and you get a dominant force on your interior for the next 10 years.
Be smart, Broncos.
NFL Comparison – Richie Incognito
6) New York Jets: Baker Mayfield
The Jets are working on bringing Teddy Bridgewater in, but I can’t see them not drafting a quarterback with this pick.
And so Baker Mayfield to Gotham City it is.
Mayfield might be the most polarising prospect in the 2018 draft class. Some love him, like my good friend Tom White (who will be doing his own Mock Draft soon), and fiercely disagree with any and all criticisms of his game. Others see a short, non-athletic, spread quarterback from the Big 12 and do not put him in the same category as Darnold, Rosen and Allen.
Spread quarterbacks have had limited success in the NFL, as have small quarterbacks. Mayfield falls into both categories. Whilst his Oklahoma offense was impressive at the collegiate level, it will not translate to the NFL because in reality, Oklahoma’s offence was not really an offence – it was a bunch of trick plays with Mayfield on rollouts. However, Mayfield’s ability to process, extend plays and throw with accuracy give him a good shot at becoming a star quarterback in the NFL.
Whoever takes Mayfield is taking a big risk. But if you believe if Baker Mayfield could be a transcendent player, then you do whatever it takes to get your guy – especially at the quarterback position. For the New York Football Jets, it is a risk worth taking.
NFL Comparison – Russell Wilson/Case Keenum/Johnny Manziel
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb – DE, NC State
The Bucs biggest need is a premier pass rusher, they struggled to get much pressure on the quarterback from edge rushers all year, so I’m giving them the best one in this draft.
Bradley Chubb had an absolute monster year with 73 tackles with 25 TFL’s, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted in 2017.
For a big pass-rusher, he has ridiculous speed coming off the edge and has shown the ability to get off blocks with his strength and hand usage. Chubb has developed some variety in pass-rushing moves and looks like an asset as a future three-down starter in the NFL.
Tampa will certainly consider taking Minkah Fitzpatrick here, and they should. But they cannot miss out on Chubb with this pick – he is as close to a ‘sure thing’ as you will get in this draft.
Some believe the Browns should seriously consider taking Chubb with the #1 pick – with Chubb and Garrett rushing the passer, they would be a scary front. I’m not sure about him as the first pick, but don’t be surprised if the Browns take him 4th.
NFL Comparison – Everson Griffen
8) Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick – CB/S, Alabama
The Bears need weapons on offense in the worst way, but they just can’t pass up a versatile talent like Minkah Fitzpatrick if he falls to #8 – and that’s where I have him.
Fitzpatrick is the prototypical player which every NFL team is looking for – he can play outside, inside and at either safety position.
Chicago gave up a 94 passer rating on throws to the short middle of the field last year and surrendered a ridiculous 147 passer rating on passes to the deep middle, and Fitzpatrick could help address those vulnerabilities from the get-go. As hybrid of slot cornerback, deep safety, and nickel linebacker, Fitzpatrick could run with slot receivers and tight ends, patrol the second level as a “robber” defender, or range as a deep safety.
His versatility, football character and desire to succeed give him Pro Bowl potential and should make him an early starter.
In a move which surprised people, the Bears recently franchised tagged young, promising cornerback Kyle Fuller. I love this move.
In Fuller, Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson and Minkah Fitzpatrick – the Bears will have a young, exciting secondary.
I actually don’t believe Fitzpatrick is the best DB in the draft, but scouts are in love with his versatility and the word on him is that he is a ‘culture changer’. A lot of teams need a guy like Fitzpatrick.
NFL Comparison – Bigger Tyrann Mathieu/Malcolm Jenkins
9) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds – OLB, Virginia Tech
I initially had the 49ers taking a cornerback, but in a move which broke my heart (as a Seahawks fan), the Niners signed Richard Sherman on a three-year deal.
Therefore they are in a position in which they can take the best player in the draft and Tremaine Edmunds is that man.
The only reason I have him falling this far is because of the three quarterbacks being taken early. He is the best linebacker in the draft and the third best defensive player, in my opinion. He jumps off the screen when watching tape.
Tremaine Edmunds is a name who shot up experts draft boards in 2017 due to his rapid rise. At 6-5, 250lbs, he is a rare combination of size/weight/length combo – whilst being a playmaker from the linebacker position.
Still only 19 year old with elite traits already, Edmunds has a very high upside – similar to Anthony Barr in that he can cover whilst being stout in the running game. He could comfortably play the Will linebacker in a 4-3, which the Niners run.
It may take time for him to become an effective coverage linebacker as scouts have pointed to mental busts in man coverage hurting his team this past season, but he has all the tools and traits to become a dominant player in both the pass and run game with good coaching.
The Niners should take Quenton Nelson if he is still available as their production from the guard position was pretty poor last year and he would certainly help Jimmy Garoppolo. Another play who they may consider is who I have the Dallas Cowboys taking…
NFL Comparison – Anthony Barr
10) Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith – LB, Georgia
The inside linebacker spot has been a major concern for the Raiders for too long now, and they must address this. Whilst Tremaine Edmunds is the better player, Roquan Smith makes more sense for the Raiders.
Some believe Smith will be better suited to playing as a WILL linebacker, and that may be the case, but after watching just a few minutes tape on him, his elite athleticism, intelligence and abilities to play both the run and the pass gives him all the tools to become an elite inside linebacker. Either way, he could certainly play inside in a 3-4 defensive scheme, which the Raiders run.
Smith is a fast and physical linebacker who flies around the field. Whilst he excels as a run defender, he has shown the necessary speed and athleticism to be able to cover in the passing game. He had an impressive season totalling 137 tackles with 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2017.
He plays a lot like Bobby Wagner, but the guy who he reminds me most of is Deion Jones. Scouts believe already is at Jones’ level and could be an All-Pro by his second year.
Some think he’s a little undersized – that doesn’t bother me as an inside linebacker. He is taller than Bobby Wagner and is as athletic. Bruce Irvin-Roquan Smith-Khalil Mack as your linebacker core – I see you, Raiders.
NFL Comparison – Deion Jones
11) Miami Dolphins: Denzel Ward – CB, Ohio State
Sources say that the 49ers love Denzel Ward, even more so than Minkah Fitzpatrick, but after picking up Richard Sherman I would be surprised if they still take him.
The Dolphins only have Xavien Howard at cornerback and must add one or two corner’s in Free Agency and the Draft. I can’t see them passing on Ward with this pick.
Ward is an absolutely ridiculous athlete. He had similar combine numbers to Deion Sanders.
Scouts love his footwork, he will mirror and match with good balance throughout the route and has elite agility to stick with his receiver.
This one comes down to personal preference. For me, Ward is the second best pure cornerback in this draft by a guy I have going a little later.
At 5’11 he lacks the height and strength to play as an outside cornerback, which may mean they will move him inside to play Nickelback. If that is the case, he definitely has the potential to become one of the best nickels in the league – but do you really want to spend a top 11 pick on a corner that may only play in nickel and dime packages?
One thing for sure, Ward is a playmaker and if you put enough playmakers on your defence then good things will happen.
NFL Comparison – Chris Harris Jr/Adoree Jackson
12) Indianapolis Colts (via Cincinnati, Buffalo): Marcus Davenport – DE, UTSA
This is assuming that the Bengals address their offensive line issues in free agency. This team is at the point where it needs to take a risk, they need some talent on their squad and Davenport might be just the guy.
The Colts need a pass-rusher in the worst way and in Davenport they would get an extremely talented, raw player who could be coached up abd becoming a Pro-Bowl calibre player.
Davenport impressed scouts at the combine, exerting an excellent skill set with speed and agility. He has length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL, but scouts believe he needs to learn more pass-rushing moves. In 2017, Davenport notched 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles.
Edge defenders with length, quickness, and athleticism are always in demand, so Davenport could go early in the first round in a weak year at defensive end.
NFL Comparison – Danielle Hunter
13) Washington Redskins: Vita Vea – DT, Washington
The Redskins added Jonathan Allen in last year’s but still need to add a considerable amount of talent to their defensive line – so I’m giving them Vita Vea.
Whilst I feel that Maurice Hurst is the best defensive tackle in the draft, I believe Vea has the potential to comfortably eclipse him as the best and I would always go with potential rather than immediate production – especially for a team who aren’t ready to win right away.
The first thing that stands out when watching Vita Vea is his size, which he uses to literally man-handle opponents.
There is no way a man his size should be able to move as well as he does. He was a running back in High School and that shows on tape.
“I’m still kind of bothered that he hasn’t corrected some of the same issues he had last year. I think he’s going to be a really good NFL player and his issues are all correctable – he just needs to do it.” — NFC West Coast scout
Whilst being a dominant run stopper, he needs to work on his pass rushing or he could easily become run down only player.
He should work into a defensive line rotation immediately and has the ability to become a good NFL starter for years – a faster version of his comparison.
NFL Comparison – Sheldon Rankins
14) Green Bay Packers: Joshua Jackson – CB, Iowa
My number one corner falls to the Packers. The reason I have Jackson above Denzel Ward is simply his size and his potential to dominate in press coverage with his long arms.
The Packers’ pass defence was poor once again in 2017, surrendering a 102.0 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks—better only than the Browns—while giving up 30 passing touchdowns.
Jackson led the nation in interceptions last season with 8, and broke up 18 other throws. He would pair well with Kevin King, the team’s first-rounder from last year, in Green Bay’s new-look defence under Mike Pettine.
He anticipates routes, jumps them and returns it to the house. He allowed no touchdowns after Week 4.
Jackson still has a lot to learn, only starting 14 games in his college career, and it may take him some time to adapt to the NFL. His tackling is questionable, does not have great straight line speed which makes him susceptible to being beaten on go-routes and he could get caught on double moves as he buys into the routes.
He could be a boom-or-bust player due to his small sample size – I just like what I see.
NFL Comparison – Marcus Peters
15) Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams – OT, Texas
The Cardinals got their quarterback – Sam Bradford.
This could be a smart move, but the Cardinals offensive line was pretty horrendous last year, and if Bradford is going to be successful they are going to need to protect him.
An offensive linemen would also help to get their superstar running back David Johnson going, and Connor Williams might be the only true left tackle in the draft worth taking in the first-round.
Even though he played left tackle, Williams is capable of playing in any one of the five positions along the line with his good combination of speed, strength and footwork.
With offensive linemen costing a premium in today’s NFL, Williams is certainly worth drafting here, rather than paying $8m for an average one.
Offensive linemen are by far the most difficult players to scout, so I largely defer to the experts on this who mostly believe Williams will be a high draft pick.
NFL Comparison – Jake Matthews
16) Dallas Cowboys (via Baltimore): Calvin Ridley – WR, Alabama
Fearing that Baltimore will take their guy, Jerry Jones pulls the trigger and trades up to get their #1 weapon and their Dez Bryant replacement.
Although the Cowboys have a ton of needs on the defensive side of the ball, they do have some cap flexibility to bring some starting calibre players in during Free Agency – franchising DeMarcus Lawrence and resigning David Irving would be a good start.
Although I mentioned Ridley as a Dez Bryant replacement, Courtland Sutton is more like Bryant than Ridley – and that is why the Cowboys won’t draft Sutton.
Ridley, unlike Sutton/Bryant, will suit the Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s offence perfectly – as he is very adept at creating separation. Not only is he fast, but he is a talented route-runner who is sudden in and out of his breaks. He will challenge defences over the top with his speed and route-running combinations.
Playing in Alabama’s offence certainly helped Ridley as he ran all the routes in a pro-style offense, this makes him a day one starter in the NFL and a player that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys can really get excited about.
The only real questions on Ridley is his ability to make catches in traffic, but if you’re keeping Bryant then I guess that is what he is for.
NFL Comparison – Amari Cooper
17) Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James – S, Florida State
The Chargers have quite a few needs on their defence with inside linebacker and defensive tackle being two big holes that they must address.
But when a player like Derwin James is available for the Chargers, they should not pass him up.
James has all the traits that you look for in a strong safety. He is extremely athletic, quick and is a huge-hitter. He has some room to improve in coverage, but he has shown glimpses that he could become an elite sideline-to-sideline safety.
But he is best deployed near the line of scrimmage – in the exact same role the Seattle Seahawks have used Pro-Bowl safety Kam Chancellor.
The Chargers could trade their current starting strong safety Jahleel Addae for a mid-round pick and open up some real cap space in order to address their other needs – that would be a smart move and make them a serious Super Bowl contender.
NFL Comparison – Kam Chancellor
18) Seattle Seahawks: Arden Key – DE, LSU
The Seahawks traded away Michael Bennett to open up some much needed cap space and to get younger on defence. It is also unlikely that Cliff Avril returns to the team after a serious neck injury which could force him to sit out the season, and potentially retiring.
Taking this into consideration, the Seahawks need a pass-rusher to go alongside Frank Clark… Arden Key makes too much sense. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have had no qualms with taking players with off-the-field issues. In 2015, Clark was projected as a top 10 talent, but he fell into the second-round because of off-the-field issues and the Seahawks took a chance on him which has massively paid off.
Key’s ability to slither round blockers using his length and speed is absolutely unquestionable, if he learns to use length consistently to his advantage then he could easily become a better pro than his NFL comparison. His footwork and ability to change direction for a man his size is extremely impressive.
His negatives are his off-the-field issues, he left LSU for four months due to personal reasons and during that time put on a lot of weight. The Seahawks drafted a player with a similar attitude last year in Malik McDowell and may not want to get burned like they did with him.
But one thing is for sure – Clark and Key would be an exciting pass-rushing duo.
I think the Seahawks will consider one of the offensive linemen with this pick, as they have a huge need a right tackle. They will also likely consider a cornerback after they released Richard Sherman.
NFL Comparison – Chandler Jones
19) Baltimore Ravens (via Dallas): Courtland Sutton – WR, SMU
A perfect fit for Baltimore’s offence, Sutton is a guy who can go up and get it and that’s what Joe Flacco needs.
Flacco has not had a 300-yard passing game in 19 games, they need an offensive weapon. Sutton is a possession receiver who has the size and ability to go up and get it to be a WR1. His ability to win in contested catch situations will certainly get him a lot of targets in the red zone and he could be a dangerous deep threat.
Similarly to Jimmy Graham, he uses his body to box out cornerbacks which makes him dangerous on third downs as he can completely dominate against smaller receivers.
However, Sutton is a below average route-runner and this makes it difficult for him to gain separation – this leads to turnovers.
He may never become an explosive WR1 because of his play speed and poor footwork, but he will be a big threat in third down and could comfortably go for 6 touchdowns in his rookie year.
NFL Comparison – Alshon Jeffery
20) Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst – DT, Michigan
The loss of Haloti Ngata is a big one for the Lions and leaves a huge gap in the middle of their defensive front. They can’t afford to not replace him as they were already had a below average rush defence.
A dominate defensive tackle is needed and therefore they select Maurice Hurst.
As previously mentioned, Hurst may very well be the best defensive tackle in this draft. He was one of the top ranked players in all of college football last year, dominating at the line of scrimmage.
He is a 3-technique who is instantly disruptive after the ball is snapped, having the capabilities to get into the backfield for a loss of yards and will rack up a lot of TFL’s. His quick feet, motor and movement allows him to get to the quarterback from the 3-tech position which could make him an effective pass-rusher – every NFL team is looking for a 3-tech who can rush the passer.
Hurst may not have the ideal size to continue to play on the interior as an every down player, he may struggled against bigger/stronger guards in the NFL.
He was sent home from the combine because of a heart condition. Reports indicate that it doesn’t seem too serious, so the Lions could take a chance on him here as a huge risk/reward guy.
NFL Comparison – Sharrif Floyd
21) Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo): Rashaan Evans – ILB, Alabama
I’m a big believer of that if your middle linebacker is slow then your defence is slow – that certainly looked to be the case with the Bengals last season.
They need a serious upgrade in the middle of their defence, and adding Rashaan Evans would be a smart move after already bolstering their offensive line this offseason adding Cordy Glenn.
Evans is everything you look for in a middle linebacker. He has ideal speed, length and is an off-the-charts athlete for the position. He has the agility to go recover from mistakes and make plays.
He is an ascending player, improving each year as an inside backer and scouts believes that will continue once he gets to the league.
Evans can play great coverage when needed is an explosive blitzer when called upon to do so. Some scouts have questions about his durability as nagging injuries have plagued him throughout his career.
It would not surprise me at all if he has as good of a season as Reuben Foster.
NFL Comparison – CJ Mosley
22) Indianapolis Colts (via Buffalo): Mike McGlinchley – OT, Notre Dame
We all know one thing about the Colts – they will go as far as Andrew Luck takes them. To do that, they need him to play and they need him to stop taking as many hits as he did in 2016.
Therefore the smart move would be to draft a right tackle who they will be able to rely on.
Mike McGlinchley is excellent in pass protection as he uses his speed and athleticism to dominate against pass rushers – he played as a tight end at High School and that athleticism is evident on tape. He has great footwork and uses his hands well whilst positioning his body to use the pass-rushers own strengths against them. McGlinchley has been named a team captain at every level he has played on.
His weakness is in his core strength which must be improved when he gets to the league but that can be done in the weight room.
McGlinchley has shown in his career that he will most certainly be a right tackle, rather than on the left as he is simply more comfortable and confident there.
NFL Comparison – Nate Solder
23) Los Angeles Rams: Billy Price – C, Ohio State
Sean McVay likes versatile lineman and Billy Price may be the best one in the entire draft and would solidify their emerging offensive line.
Price is a dominant run blocker, and would create huge holes for Gurley to run through. He is a special athlete and is incredibly explosive. He plays with the ideal quickness that you look for in your Center. His core strength and balance is evident when watching tape.
He must improve his footwork to go with his brute strength. His lack of length may hurt him at the next level.
Price unfortunately tore his pectoral muscle at the draft combine, but he should be back in time for training camp.
NFL Comparison – David Andrews
24) Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Wynn – G, Georgia
The Panthers are losing Andrew Norwell in Free Agency and can’t afford to not replace him, Isaiah Wynn could be a cheaper upgrade and that is how you win in the NFL – getting cheaper and better.
Wynn is a talented, technically sound blocker which scouts seem to love. His athleticism allows for quick advantages as a run blocker while his hand strength and footwork helps him sustain those advantages into open running lanes.
His pass protection will be appealing to teams looking for help in that area and he is capable of sliding out to tackle in an emergency. He appears to have the technique and play traits to overcome any concerns about size and could become an early starter.
At 6’2, he is a little undersized to play the position and will have to prove he can handle playing against much taller defensive players.
NFL Comparison – Ronald Leary
25) Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry – OLB/DE
He plays for my favourite college team, so I watched Harold Landry quite a few occasions this year. I am confident when I say that Landry has the upside to become the second best pass-rusher in this draft.
Landry lacks the necessary height, but his arm length, playing speed and athleticism more than makes up for that.
His ability to dip and rip around the edge give him special potential as an edge rusher.
While he can play standing for 3-4 teams, he’s at his best with his hand in the dirt as a rusher. Landry can get by as an NFL rusher with just speed and athleticism, but he has an opportunity to become a Pro Bowler if he can improve his hand usage and develop an inside counter.
What worries me about Landry is if he is asked to be a stand-up linebacker, dropping back into coverage – that is not his game. He will need to be deployed in the Vic Beasley/Bruce Irvin role as pass-rushing specialist, meaning he could only be effective as a third down guy. This may very well hurt his draft stock.
He would be best suited playing as a DE in a 4-3 defensive scheme. The Seahawks may consider him at #18.
NFL Comparison – Bruce Irvin
26) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne – DT, Alabama
I surprised myself with this one as I’m a big fan of Da’Ron Payne.
The Alabama standout had an unbelievable combine, which certainly will have helped his draft stock and may even see him as the first DT off the board.
The Falcons have quite a few defensive linemen who are
As seen on tape as well as the combine, Payne has an extremely impressive combinations of strength and athleticism.
Similarly to Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, he will be the premier run-stuffer in this draft, but he may have enough in the pass rushing toolbox to project as a better pro than college pass rusher and scouts love that. If he shows signs of being able to rush the passer at the next level then don’t be shocked to see him drafted in the top 15.
Payne is a day one starter who immediately upgrades a team’s running defence. If teams view him as just a run-down player, then his draft value could fall a little as Reed and Robinson’s did, but he has the potential to be much more than that and the Falcons can afford to risk that with this pick.
NFL Comparison – Brandon Williams
27) New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki – TE, Penn State
The Saints had an explosive offence this past season, but they missed a premier pass-catching tight end in the red zone. I think they will aggressively pursue Jimmy Graham in Free Agency, but if they fail to secure him then Mike Gesicki would be a smart option.
Similarly to Graham, Gesicki does not do much blocking for the run game. He is basically a wide receiver masquerading as a tight end in that he is capable of lining up outside, running routes and beating corners.
Gesicki can get open and has the ball skills to beat against linebackers and safeties with ease,
He needs to improve his play strength and his issues as a blocker could limit the amount of teams who will target him, but he has a chance to become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league.
This guy is a sleeper for your fantasy team next year.
NFL Comparison – Zach Ertz
28) Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Hughes – CB, UCF
I’m a big Mike Hughes fan, but I think he may fall in the draft because of how much of a raw talent he is.
When you watch Hughes on tape, he is one of those players that jumps off the screen. He is tough and has great ball skills. He could become the best cornerback in this draft class.
But he also could get picked on through his first few seasons in the NFL as he still needs to improve in coverage. Many scouts believe he should have stayed in college so that he could have gained experience playing the position after transitioning from a wide receiver.
Although he is a little too short, he should play on the outside because of his physicality in press coverage. Hughes jams at the line of scrimmage and is capable of putting you off your route – similarly to the art that Richard Sherman has mastered. Hughes has short-area quickness, which he demonstrated at the combine and this will allow him to make up for mistakes in coverage and make plays on the ball.
In either case, Hughes will be an elite returner as a rookie. The Steelers can afford to take a risk/reward pick here – Hughes is their guy.
NFL Comparison – Bradley Roby
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: Lamar Jackson – QB, Louisville
I just love this fit.
Lamar Jackson is the most explosive playmaker in the draft and the Jaguars should take a chance on him.
For those who are critical of his passing abilities, he had a better completion % than Josh Allen, who same call the best pure passer in the draft… give me a break.
Although he is not a finished product as a pocket passer, he would add a dimension to the Jaguars offense as a dual-threat. Blake Bortles and the Jags offence were at their best when Bortles scrambled out of the pocket and made plays – I can assure you that Lamar Jackson is a better athlete.
With Nathaniel Hackett, a spread offensive coordinator at the controls of the offense, the Jaguars could have an attack that would allow Jackson to flourish in a position in which he feels comfortable and can be extremely effective.
What concerns me with Jackson is his slight frame. If you squint, it looks like Kevin Durant is out there playing quarterback. As a running quarterback, he is going to take big hits and his body needs to be ready for that. He also needs to protect himself and learn how and when to slide.
I’m a big Lamar Jackson believer. I love what he is able to offer at the quarterback position and if it were me, I would consider drafting him in the top 10, but in reality I think he will fall in the late first round.
NFL Comparison – Mike Vick
30) Minnesota Vikings: Jaire Alexander – CB, Louisville
Two Louisville Cardinals in a row!
The Vikings got Kirk Cousins and they are now ready to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Therefore, they should add for need, and try fill a hole in their team rather than draft for potential upside.
Jaire Alexander will probably not play outside, but he could be a perfect Nickelback in the NFL, and that is exactly what the Vikings need.
Alexander uses his instincts to anticipate routes and has the quickness to close on throws and make plays on the ball.
His tape is so impressive, and if you look at some of his highlights you would think he is as good of a prospect as Minkah Fitzpatrick
However, similarly to his college teammate Lamar Jackson, there are serious questions about his durability because of his slight frame. He needs to improve in man coverage once he gets to the NFL.
NFL Comparison – Kendall Fuller
31) New England Patriots: Donte Jackson – CB, LSU
The Patriots will part ways with Malcolm Butler after also letting Logan Ryan walk in Free Agency. Whilst they will also consider taking an offensive linemen with this pick, they need to get young and athletic on defence. This was a huge reason why the Pats lost the Super Bowl and it will still drive Bill Belichick crazy.
Donte Jackson is as athletic as a cornerback as you can get – he ran a 4.32!!!!!!!!
Although he does not have the ideal size, Jackson has the speed, strength and athleticism to be a versatile corner in the NFL. His short burst and quick feet will allow him to break on the ball and be an instant playmaker for the Patriots.
He has to work on his man coverage and has a tendency to bite on routes, which will leave him susceptible to being beat on double-moves and leading to touchdowns.
The Patriots need day one starters and Jackson certainly has the capabilities to play across from Gilmore and hold his own.
NFL Comparison – Adoree Jackson
32) Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice – RB, LSU
I read somewhere that Derrius Guice runs like his hair is on fire – I can’t tell you how much of a perfect analogy that is.
Guice would be the perfect fit for the Eagles. His physical running style would get their team going, and would take so much pressure of Carson Wentz who will be coming off an ACL.
He has the ideal combination of speed, power and balance. Guice hass quality vision and is able to make sudden cuts without rolling into low gear.
Sets up blocks and follows the plan, rather trying to make a hero-play and losing yards – his IQ is apparent when watching tape.
His breakaway speed is average, he won’t make those 75-yard plays for you out of nothing. His pass protection was pretty poor at college, he must drastically improve this. Guice is not much of a third down back and will also have to work on his pass-catching out of the backfield.
He runs like Beast Mode, but I like the guy below as his comparison.
NFL Comparison – Young Frank Gore
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