This week I am going to be taking a deep dive into the NFL Draft. This is one of the most exciting times of the year in the NFL, as 250+ athletes fulfill their life-long dreams of becoming professional football players and every team finds some hope for the future.
Be on the lookout all week for more mocks, predictions, and news on Oregon Sports News.
My NFL Draft coverage schedule for this week…
Monday – Third Round Mock Draft
Tuesday – Second Round Mock Draft
Wednesday – First Round Mock Draft and Analysis
Thursday – NFL Draft Bold Prediction
Friday – First Round Reactions… and Overreactions
First Round Mock
1-1-1 Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Coming off a zero win season the Browns need to nail this pick. In my mind, this pick is about the next 10 years, not this year. Darnold brings you the best combination of upside and safety in a pick. Darnold looks to develop as the franchise quarterback in Cleveland. The Browns can’t overthink this.
1-2-2 New York Giants — Josh Rosen, QB, USC
The San Antonio Spurs, a proud franchise, lost their best player to an injury and ended up with the #1 pick. That #1 pick ended up being Tim Duncan. That changed that franchise, and the NBA, for next 2 decades. The Giants find themselves in a similar situation. A team that has won 2 Super Bowls in the last decade finds themselves with this pick. With a 37 year old quarterback, you have to go QB here.
1-3-3 New York Jets (from Indianapolis) — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Adam Schefter came out Tuesday morning and said that Mayfield is still a possibility at #1 to Cleveland. I don’t see it happening, but he would be a good fit for the Jets. The Jets are going for a QB here and need someone to change their franchise. Mayfield may have a more instant impact than any of the other quarterbacks.
1-4-4 Cleveland Browns (from Houston) — Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State
The first defensive player off the board. Chubb lining up opposite from last year’s #1 pick Myles Garrett will be really devastating. This pick could be traded, could be Quenton Nelson, and there are rumors that the Browns could draft another QB at 4.
1-5-5 Denver Broncos — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
In my opinion, the intrigue in this draft starts at #5. Denver is the wildcard here. They need a quarterback, but so do other teams in the draft. I think that Buffalo, Arizona, and even New England may be gunning for this pick to grab a quarterback. Here I give the Broncos a big quarterback with an even bigger arm. The accuracy issues have been well covered, but with NFL coaching, miraculous things have happened in the past.
1-6-6 Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
A healthy Andrew Luck lining up in shotgun with Saquon Barkley to his side? Yes, please. Sign me up for that. The Colts need to protect Luck for the future. It’s either the generational talent at running back or the generational talent at offensive guard. I think they would happily go running back here.
1-7-7 Tampa Bay Bucaneers — Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Tampa Bay is going to go defense here. If Bradley Chubb slides this far it would be a soft landing spot for him. The question about Fitzpatrick is what position does he play. He has said in multiple pre-draft interviews that he wants to start his career at cornerback but would be willing to play anywhere. This is a guy that could literally play cornerback, safety, or linebacker for any team.
1-8-8 Chicago Bears — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Nelson is the #1 player on a lot of people’s boards going into the draft. This would be a no-brainer pick for the Bears who are investing in their young QB, Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago gets the best offensive lineman in the draft, and maybe the best player in the draft.
1-9-9 San Francisco 49ers — Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Watch Landry’s 2016 tape and he looks like a top-5 pick. Watch Landry’s 2017 tape, when he had a bad ankle, and you see a 2nd round pick. Landry’s upside and measureables are off the charts. The biggest question is how healthy is his ankle. This pick for the 9ers could go in a ton of directions.
1-10-10 Oakland Raiders — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith is the best linebacker in this draft, and it really isn’t close. Smith is game-ready. He has an impressive mix of aggressiveness and instincts. He has a real nose for the ball. He plays sideline-to-sideline on every single play. This is a guy that 32 teams could use on their team.
1-11-11 Miami Dolphins — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia
I just got done saying that Smith is the best linebacker in the draft by a long ways… and then Edmunds gets drafted the very next pick. The upside with Edmunds is what could possibly land him in the top-10. He will be the youngest player drafted in the first round and has a ton of potential as an inside or outside linebacker.
1-12-12 Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati) — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Chances are the Bills are going to move up to pick up their quarterback of choice. If they end up sitting tight, they would love for any of the top-5 QBs to fall to 12. Jackson is too similar to Tyrod Taylor, who the Bills have openly been against for the past couple seasons. The Bills’ target is looking like it is going to be Josh Allen. If Jackson were here, the Bills would have to bite. But then it would be same ol’ Bills.
1-13-13 Washington Redskins — Derwin James, S, Florida State
Last year the Redskins sat at pick #17 and Jonathan Allen fell into their laps. If James fell to them at this spot it would be another huge coup for the Skins. James is a versatile defensive back, so versatile that people question where to play him. My favorite draft expert says about James, “better athlete than football player”. That is a perfect description for the Florida State DB.
1-14-14 Green Bay Packers — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward is the #1 prototypical cornerback in this draft. Ward has loose hips and the speed to stay in step with NFL wide receivers. The Packers need defensive back help, but could also go with offensive lineman in this spot.
1-15-15 Arizona Cardinals — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
In a normal year the #1 offensive tackle in the draft is a top-5 pick. Because of the lack of headline talent in the offensive tackle group this year, McGlinchey lasts to #15. The Cardinals need a QB and a WR. Here they go tackle and anchor the left side of the line for years to come.
1-16-16 Baltimore Ravens — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Vander Esch is the fastest riser in this draft. Ask someone a year ago about Vander Esch being a first round draft pick and they would ask, “who?”. Coming from 8-man football to an NFL first-rounder is a great 30-for-30 story. The Ravens spent all of free agency solidifying their receiving corps and goes defense here in the first round.
1-17-17 Los Angeles Chargers — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is one of the most polarizing players in the first round of the draft. Some love him, some hate him. All it takes is one team to bite on such a talented player. I could see Vea as a top-10 pick. He is a big bodied defensive tackle that could play the 1 or the 3 technique, as well as the nose. The question with Vea is whether or not he can stay in playing weight.
1-18-18 Seattle Seahawks — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Richard Sherman is now playing for a division rival and Earl Thomas may be on the trade block. The Seahawks once had the Legion of Boom and need to bring it back. Alexander is an extremely talented cornerback that could slide into the Seahawks scheme day one. After Fitzpatrick and Ward, Alexander is a part of a very talented cornerback group in this draft.
1-19-19 Dallas Cowboys — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Ridley is the opposite of Dez Bryant. Ridley is the best route runner in this draft and can create separation despite having the top-end speed or deep threat ability. Ridley is a smaller bodied receiver who has no fear going across the middle of a formation and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in run blocking. Ridley would have an instant impact for any team in the league, but especially as the new #1 option in Dallas.
1-20-20 Detroit Lions — Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Wynn player left tackle for the Bulldogs but projects as a guard in the NFL. That position flex is something that a lot of teams look for in the first round of the draft. Sliding the #20 pick to a completely new position is a risk but Wynn is worth the gamble.
1-21-21 Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo) — James Daniels, OC, Iowa
Daniels is the proverbial “right kind of guy”. He is going to be the glue for an offensive line in the NFL. He can play guard or center and is a born leader. Daniels is being a bit overlooked in this draft. It wouldn’t surprise me if Daniels found himself in the mid-teens.
1-22-22 Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) — D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The D.J. Moore hype train has continued to gain steam since the NFL Combine. Moore is a talented receiver that can play on the inside or the outside. If the Bills stay put at #12 and #22 and land a QB and WR of this caliber, the Bills are a better team moving forward. But for the Bills to take such a calculated approach is far fetched.
1-23-23 New England Patriots (Los Angeles Rams) — Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Hughes is that kind of guy that that the Patriots need. He is a versatile cornerback with the return skills to be a complete game changer. Coming from UCF has dampened the excitement around Hughes. Some have him dropping to the 2nd round, which would be lunacy.
1-24-24 Carolina Panthers — Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
I love the hype that certain players garner in the NFL Draft process. No one has seen their stock rise any further that Davenport. I have seen some mocks with him in the top-10. I’m not buying it. Davenport is a good player and will make a team better, but isn’t a top target in this draft.
1-25-25 Tennessee Titans — Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
There are four linebacker talents in this draft. After that the falloff in talent is abrupt. Don’t be shocked if all 4 find themselves in the top 20. It is a valuable position in this draft. Evans may be the hardest hitting of the 4 and would be a great fit on the inside for the Titans.
1-26-26 Atlanta Falcons — Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
If it weren’t for the heart condition Hurst would be higher on my draft board. If a team’s doctors clear Hurst, he is the best 3-technique in the draft. Hurst could go anywhere in the first round. I have him falling to the close to the end, strictly because his medicals are such an unknown.
1-27-27 New Orleans Saints — Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Goedert compares to Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. Witten has played 15 seasons, caught 1152 calls for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns. The Saints have struggled to replace Jimmy Graham and could find a guy that could hold down the position for years with Goedert.
1-28-28 Pittsburgh Steelers — Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Harrison is the best strong safety in the draft and will slide in as a leader of a defense in the NFL. There have been some knocks to Harrison’s games and his limitations athletically but he seems like a perfect fit for the Steelers.
1-29-29 Jacksonville Jaguars — Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Can’t believe that I’m saying this but the Jags are a very well-constructed team. They can go with best player available in this spot. Williams has upside as a tackle and could play tackle on either side. In a weak offensive tackle class, Williams is one of two first rounders.
1-30-30 Minnesota Vikings — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson would go higher in the first round if he had a willingness to tackle. I don’t think that corners need to be great tacklers but they need to have some desire to bring the guy with the ball down. Jackson’s ball skills and fluidity in coverage is what makes him a sure first rounder.
1-31-31 New England Patriots — Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Not a lot of people are talking about Kirk as a pick in the first round. I love Kirk! He is one of my pet cats in this draft. If he winds up in New England he would be an instant favorite for Tom Brady. Kirk fights for the ball, loves to cross the defense, and catches the ball with his hands. Kirk is going to be a solid receiver in the NFL.
1-32-32 Philadelphia Eagles — Ronald Jones, RB, USC
This pick is going to be traded. There is no doubt about it. The Eagles next pick isn’t until pick #130. That is almost a hundred picks between picks. The Eagles will need to trade back and hopefully pick up some draft capital. This pick also carries a lot of value for other teams because it is the last pick that comes with the 5th year option on the contract. If the Eagles stay, BIG IF, Jones would be a great fit for them with Ajayi in the last year of his contract.