NFL Mock Draft 2.0

It’s time for NFL Mock Draft version 2.0 – except this time – we have 32 different NFL writers, bloggers and podcasters making the selections.  Take a look and let’s hear who you agree/disagree with!

1. Cleveland Browns (@NFLFilmStudy of @BR_NFL)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns have loaded up on playmakers this offseason, and acquired a solid bridge quarterback in Tyrod Taylor.  That allows them to take a quarterback with high upside despite needing some time to become more consistent.  Darnold’s not without faults but should benefit from Todd Haley’s presence and the time that Taylor’s presence will afford him

2. New York Giants (@NickSpartz of @BeerFueledFF)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.

The Giants have the option of kicking the QB can down the road a few years and I think they’ll trade out of this pick come draft day (likely No. 5 with Denver).  With no trades in this mock, they take the best player in the draft in Barkley who fills a massive hole on their offense and immediately gives them an elite running back to pair with one of the best receivers in the NFL

3. New York Jets (@EliotCrist of @DraftDailyPod)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets have been searching for a franchise quarterback since Broadway Joe.  Now they have Broadway Baker.  Mayfield is the most accurate and productive quarterback in the draft.  The Jets traded for the third overall pick the day after his pro day and have scheduled a private workout with Mayfield.  With Mayfield under center the Jets can get creative with Jeremy Bates running a spread concept, mixing in RPOs and building the offense around Mayfield’s strengths

4. Cleveland Browns (@BrownsMockDraft of Browns Mock Draft)
Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State

I’m full Team Trade Down at this spot, especially with the way the first three picks have gone.  Since there’s no trades, the Browns get the only player with proper value that makes sense for them at this spot.  Adding Chubb to Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah is potentially a devastating pass rush group.  Barring trades, a Darnold-Chubb first round should be rather attractive to everyone in Cleveland

5. Denver Broncos (@JEStoneTH8FF of @TheHateful8ff)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Broncos are still looking to fill the post-Peyton Manning void after their failed experiments with Trevor Siemian and Paxton LynchCase Keenum’s deal is relatively short at two years, so the Broncos will look to draft one of this year’s top quarterback prospects that they can develop and build a future with.  Rosen is the most prototypical QB in this year’s class, so John Elway would love to get his hands on Rosen’s talent

6. Indianapolis Colts (@ConorButts5 of @Hateful8ff)
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense and need to fill a hole at linebacker.  Edmunds can do just that because of his length and athleticism.  He is very good in coverage and solid as a pass rusher as well.  With proper coaching, he has the talent to become a great run defender en route to becoming one of the best LB’s in the league

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@JSchyvinck13 of @SportsGuysBlog)
Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame

The Buccaneers can go a lot of directions here, but helping protect Jameis Winston is a priority.  Evan Smith and Ali Marpet are the current guards on the roster, but Nelson provides and immediate upgrade.  His physical, nasty nature will provide a spark to the line from day one and help both the run and pass game

8. Chicago Bears (@jacobinfante24 of @WCGridiron)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

This scenario would be a rough one for the Bears with Chubb, Nelson and Edmunds all having been picked already.  However,they would still be able to find some high-quality talent at No. 8.  Fitzpatrick is a do-it-all defensive back who can drop back in coverage and tackle very well.  He’s an intelligent player and a hard worker who would fit in instantly with the blue-collar Chicago style.  The Bears don’t necessarily need a safety right now, but it could become a need soon with Adrian Amos slated to hit free agency in 2019.  Even if the Bears were to keep Amos, they could slide Fitzpatrick over to slot corner where he also has game-changing potential

9. San Francisco 49ers (@DynastyGuruFF of @FFD260)
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

San Francisco has lacked a quality pass rush since Aldon Smith.  Davenport is a 6’6, 250-pound defensive end with long arms, explosive burst and an array of pass-rushing movies.  He profiles to be the next Von Miller/Khalil Mack-type player and can instantly make an impact on the 49ers’ defense.  Davenport is also very comfortable rushing the passer from an upright position and has elite bend to get around the edge and to the QB

10. Oakland Raiders (@MitchellRenz365 of @ChatSports)
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.

The Raiders cornerback corps was among the, if not the, worst in the NFL in 2017.  And they have lost three of their four top CB’s from a season ago.  Ward arguably has the most talent of any corner in the 2018 draft class.  Ward was a monster in the Big 10 last year, racking up 15 pass deflections and an interception while completely locking down one side of the field.  He’s electric, smart, and will be a bonafide number-one corner in the NFL.  Despite his lack of size, he’s physical and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.  Sounds like a Gruden Grinder to me

11. Miami Dolphins (@RMolnar1010 of @LoadedBox)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While the Dolphins have big needs across the roster, this very scenario would have Adam Gase’s eyes and mouth watering.  Getting a big-bodied quarterback to develop down in Miami, Gase gets his franchise QB that he can work with and develop while Miami finally gets it’s replacement for Ryan Tannehill

12. Buffalo Bills (@Maatspencer of @TheHateful8ff)
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

With the teams’ current situation at quarterback following the departure of Tyrod Taylor, I expect the Bills to try and move up in the draft to grab a top-five QB.  They only signed A.J. McCarron to a two-year contract, which feels like a bridge-QB situation.  With the change to the Sean McDermott 4-3 defense in 2017, I think there will be a focus on bolstering the defensive tackle position this year.  Kyle Williams is also coming into his age 34 season and they will look to replace him.  I think Bryan, with his 95.8% Relative Athletic Score, has the explosiveness to warrant and early first-round selection

13. Washington Redskins (@ZachHicks2 of @Breaking_FB)
Derwin James, DB, Florida St.

The Redskins appear to be set at safety with Montae Nicholson and D.J. Swearinger (both graded as top-15 safeties in the NFL according to Bleacher Report last season) but it’s hard to pass on the versatile safety from Florida State.  James brings versatility, the ability to lock down tight ends, and physicality to a defense that just needs playmakers.  Regardless of where the Redskins would play him, James would drastically improve a defense that struggled mightily last season

14. Green Bay Packers (@HoppBFF of @BeerFueledFF)
Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Green Bay went into free agency trying to help their secondary and they were about as successful as Jordy Nelson was without Aaron Rodgers, only managing to sign Tramon Williams.  Hughes is a physical corner that is regarded by some as the most complete cornerback in this draft.  He can help solidify the secondary opposite second-year player, Kevin King

15. Arizona Cardinals (@JL_Chapman of @EatSleepFF)
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The Cardinals have one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL.  Larry Fitzgerald is coming back for another year and will dominate in the slot role again, but help is needed outside.  Sutton is a physical wideout that needs to make improvements on separating from the corner, which Fitzgerald can help with.  Sutton’s athleticism is off the charts and he even made SMU’s basketball team as a true freshman.  Sutton has the highest ceiling of all the receivers in this draft and will be a great fit in the Cardinals’ offense

16. Baltimore Ravens (@LoadedBox_Ben of @LoadedBox)
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

With Sutton off the board, the decision to select Ridley was the clear choice for the Ravens if they decide to go wide receiver here.  Baltimore is in the perfect position in the first round to select a receiver based on the combination of their need to address the position and the anticipated value Ridley provides at this point in the draft.  The addition of Michael Crabtree in free agency helps the WR unit, but Ridley possesses the tools to step in already in 2018 and provide more stability than the likes of John Brown or Breshad Perriman

17. Los Angeles Chargers (@therealNFLguru of @GridironExperts)
Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame

The Chargers have a need on the offensive line, especially at right tackle with Russell Okung expecting to maintain his starting job on the left side.  McGlinchey, the top tackle on the board, could be a perfect fit.  While he was primarily left tackle at Notre Dame, he also has experience on the right side, which is a tremendous asset at the pro level.  And despite the fact that scouting personnel around the league believe he could play left tackle in the NFL, he could open his career on the right side before transitioning when the time comes for the Chargers to move on from Okung.  With four of the top quarterbacks already off the board, McGlinchey might not be the best player available, but he’s the best who can fill a glaring need while making an immediate impact

18. Seattle Seahawks (@WillieFF247 of @FFB_247)
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP

The trend of rolling out one of the league’s worst offensive lines is hopefully coming to an end for the Seattle Seahawks.  The struggle to protect Russell Wilson was real in 2017.  The Seahawks surrendered the third-most quarterback hits and the 10th-most sacks in the league.  Hernandez is the perfect fit.  He is an absolute mauler at the point of attack and is an immediate upgrade in both run and pass protection.  He is exactly what the Seahawks need in order to get back to the physical run-first offense they thrived in just a few years ago

19. Dallas Cowboys (@csdfantasy of CSD Fantasy)
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

There has been a lot of buzz on the Dallas Cowboys’ Podcast “The Draft Show” about how far they potentially would have to trade up to get Smith.  With him falling to No. 19, and with Derwin James and Calvin Ridley off the board, this pick was a no-brainer.  The Cowboys are slowly moving away from potentially drafting a wide receiver or offensive lineman due to their moves in free agency, which leaves only a few dire needs left.  Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith’s injury histories are widely known, so adding another stud linebacker secures the position for 2018 and for the foreseeable future with a pairing of Roquan and Jaylon Smith dominating the middle of the field

20. Detroit Lions (@LoadedBoxDJ of @LoadedBox)
Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Everyone wants to say that the Lions should draft a running back because they struggle to run the ball.  I completely disagree with this.  The Lions choose not to run the ball and rather put the game in Matthew Stafford’s hands.  In order to win games against guys like Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins they need to improve their pass defense.  That starts up front getting to the quarterback.  Vea will add pressure up the middle, while at the same time, free up Ezekiel Ansah for more one-on-one opportunities

21. Cincinnati Bengals (@FF_female920 of @FF_Authority)
James Daniels, OL, Iowa

I would have loved to go Will Hernandez here, but that’s the game.  Cincinnati desperately needs to build up its offensive line, shore up the center position, and snag solid linebackers.  The trade for left tackle Cordy Glenn and signing Preston Brown to a one-year deal helped, but they still have work to do.  They lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler before last season and we saw the results: the offensive line ended up ranked 24th in the NFL (according to footballoutsiders.com).  They didn’t re-sign center Russell Bodine and so are in desperate need of a center and strong interior lineman.  Daniels fits the bill nicely.  He’s an elite athlete who is quick off the snap, shows explosion and blocks well at the second level.  His positional versatility can only add to his positives, as the Bengals could choose to use him at either guard or center.  Though his size has been one aspect of concern, Daniels showed up to the NFL Combine heavier (6’4, 306 lbs) and performed well overall.  He’ll need to maintain his weight and increase his lower body strength to be successful in the NFL as well as increase his ability to stop power rushers (very good in a zone blocking scheme); but there’s no doubt that Daniels has the talent and athleticism to be a starter for the Bengals in 2018

22. Buffalo Bills (@AndrewErickson_ of @Gridiron Experts)
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.

The Bills went defense with the No. 12 overall pick and now it’s time to improve it even more.  They lost out on Preston Brown in free agency and have a gaping hole at middle linebacker.  Their defense finished just 29th in rushing yards allowed per game last year so Vander Esch definitely provides much needed help to their front seven

23. New England Patriots (@LeviBrenneman of @LoadedBox)
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

The most likely thing that the Patriots will do is use this pick as a trade piece to get an impact player.  If they do decide to keep it, it’s because they can just draft one of the biggest impact players in the draft at No. 23.  Michel is a homerun hitter at running back.  The Patriots are famous for spreading the love at running back and that’s exactly what Michel is used to from his time at Georgia.  Pairing him with James White in that Patriots’ offense will give Tom Brady even more ways to beat you

24. Carolina Panthers (@MikeyOstrowski of @LoadedBox)
Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

To be honest, I’m hoping Carolina makes a move to somehow acquire Calvin Ridley (lord knows they need a true WR1), but I also wouldn’t complain about getting Wynn at this point in the draft.  It’s no secret that the Panthers offensive line has struggled in recent years, and being that Wynn is versatile, talented, and athletic as all hell, he could very well be the selection here.  Wynn can play guard or tackle, which with the recent offensive line shuffle, could prove to be a major asset.  At 6’3, 313-lbs, he certainly won’t be the biggest man on the o-line for Carolina, but you better believe he’s going to make an impact.  I think he comes on as an immediate starter, and could potentially be a stud down the road.  He’s a good pass protector and a phenomenal run blocker.  Wynn is one of my favorite players in the entire draft, and I think he’d be a perfect fit in Carolina

25. Tennessee Titans (@badappleFFB of @FPC_FF)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

The Titans defensive achilles heel was against the pass.  While they ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks, no one had more than eight individually.  Landry, at 6’3, 250-lbs, has the size and explosiveness off the edge to be that guy offensive coordinators have to account for.  Signing Malcolm Butler in the offseason showed a commitment to getting better defensively against the pass.  You do that through coverage and pressure.  Landry will make an immediate impact as a passing-down specialist his rookie year

26. Atlanta Falcons (@BrandonWittrup of @Snack_TimeFS)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

I’m surprised he fell this far, but that said, I don’t think Devonta Freeman had the year in Atlanta we all expected from him.  I don’t think there’s a problem taking such a strong, powerful running back like Guice at No. 26.  Matt Ryan didn’t have the same level of production in 2017 compared to his MVP season in ’16, but with Guice, that’ll all change.  Guice will help reduce the load Ryan has to carry, and the Falcons offense will return as one of the best in the NFL

27. New Orleans Saints (@TravisNFL of @SuperFlexPod)
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.

This may be a little bit of a reach, but the Saints are a team with few needs.  New Orleans and Sean Payton have a history of utilizing the tight end position as an integral part of the passing offense.  Even with the signing of Benjamin Watson in free agency, I think the Saints are looking fora  long-term solution at the position in this draft.  Doedert is a consensus top-two tight end in this draft class and has the college production, the athleticism and the hands to be a core player for years.  Not to mention that if this is the pick here, Goedert will shoot up dynasty fantasy football draft boards, as there couldn’t be a better fantasy landing spot for him

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (@DBro_FFB of @FFB_247)
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Ryan Shazier’s season-ending, and possibly career-threatening, injury last season left a void in the heart of the Steelers’ defense.  Evans is the type of linebacker that can step in and hope to fill this hole in the Steel Curtain with his toughness and leadership.  Evans displayed enough quickness to lock down the middle of the field by posting a sub seven-second three cone drill (6.96 sec).  Evans’ tackling ability and solid all around game in both rushing the passer and in coverage profile him as a great fit for the Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (@JonValenciaBF of @Breaking_FB)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

I had to check the board multiple times because I couldn’t believe this man was still available.  Jackson is a generational athlete at the quarterback position.  He has rare superstar potential and his progression from 2016 to 2017 is a major encouragement.  Blake Bortles has been the team’s most sporadic player over the last couple of seasons, and as they say, competition brings the best out of players.  Jackson brings franchise-QB potential and it’s only a matter of time until he’s handed over the keys

30. Minnesota Vikings (@ThuryBFF of @BeerFueledFF)
Billy Price, OL, Ohio St.

With the top-three guards off the board, the Vikings could choose to go defensive line or linebacker here, but the offensive line is still the top spot of concern.  Price gets to join fellow Ohio State Buckeye, Pat Elflein, in helping to take this o-line to the next level.  Price played both guard spots during his first three years for OSU.  Right now he looks to either replace Elflein and play center while Elflein plays right guard, or he slides over and just mans the position of right guard himself.  He’s a far better run blocker than pass blocker, so early predictions would be on him switching back to right guard and help create lanes for Dalvin Cook.  He finished 27th in pass block efficiency at 97.6 and finished sixth in run block success percentage at 92 percent, per PFF

31. New England Patriots (@cpgm_juice of @Couch_Potato_GM)
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Alexander has lost ground among the defensive backs in this class due to an injury-plagued 2017 campaign (sprained knee, broken hand).  Despite demonstrating the toughness and grit to play through those injuries, it resulted in an uneven performance.  However, Alexander’s 2016 tape, and flashes in 2017, suggest CB1 ability as he possess the functional strength, technique and physicality to play press coverage in and outside the numbers.  His instincts, pattern recognition and athleticism allow him to consistently make plays on the ball at the moment of truth (5 INT’s in 2016).  He also offers something in the return game.  Despite their annual success, New England is lacking in playmakers at every level of its defense.  Adding Alexander opposite Stephon Gilmore is a huge step in the right direction in a pass-happy league, considering the losses of Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler over the last two offseasons.  Alexander’s uncanny instincts and playmaking ability invokes memories of Asante Samuel

32. Philadelphia Eagles (@krich1532 of @FantasyPros)
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn St.

Most believe the Eagles need to secure depth at linebacker or tight end with this pick in the draft.  My hope was to take a LB and continue to reinforce a Super Bowl defense.  At this point in the draft however, the best linebackers were off the board that, in my opinion, had close enough to a first-round grade.  Instead, we will roll with Gesicki, who many believe to be the best TE in the draft.  He had one of the best combines of any athlete.  Having the ability to pair him with Zach Ertz and potentially run two-tight end sets will be a great asset to Nick Foles and Carson Wentz in 2018.  If trading was allowed in this mock, I probably would have moved out of this spot to a team wanting to jump back in the first and gathered some more picks.  Instead, let’s give our franchise quarterback more weapons to use.  What QB doesn’t love more weapons?

Those selected in Mock Draft version 1.0 who didn’t get picked in our latest edition: Connor Williams, OL, Texas (21. Bengals); Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (24. Panthers); Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (25. Titans); Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (26. Falcons); Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (27. Saints); Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas (28. Steelers); Kolton Miller, OL, UCLA (30. Vikings); Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma (31. Patriots)

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys discuss the offseason and NFL Draft plans for those in the AFC East.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes, and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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