The NFL Draft kicks off tonight, and television networks picked a good year to offer multiple broadcasts of the circus only eclipsed by the Super Bowl. For tonight, expect there to be many trades. Anytime four quarterbacks can go in the first ten picks, the Draft is must watch, and here is a prediction of what could unfold.
- Cleveland Browns – Josh Allen, Quarterback, Wyoming
This spot seemed to be locked up by Sam Darnold for months, but Allen has every physical trait a general manager would want. He checks the box for height, hand size, arm strength, athleticism, and played in a pro-style system. Allen should bring an end to the popular Browns’ jersey with the names of all 20 failed quarterbacks.
- New York Giants – Sam Darnold, Quarterback, Southern California
The Giants have been denying Buffalo a chance to get ahead of the Jets for months. Most people expect this pick to be Saquon Barkley. However, a team will not turn down a chance to gain multiple first round picks, multiple second round picks and possibly a future first round pick for a running back. Sam Darnold will be the youngest QB ever drafted into the NFL – 20 years old. Allow the fans a few more years to shower Eli with praise. Darnold will be the guy that leads the next Giants team to a Super Bowl win over New England.
- New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, Quarterback, Oklahoma
The Jets surrendered three second-round picks to finally grab a franchise signal caller. Baker Mayfield will energize a fanbase that needs excitement. He is not Johnny Manziel. He is not Drew Brees. He is not Russell Wilson. He’s not tall, big, fast or strong. He is a playmaker that knows how to do one thing – score.
- Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, Defensive End, North Carolina State
The popular new term for pass rushers is “edge defender.” This is a term meant for pass-rush specialist. That’s not Bradley Chubb. Chubb does get after the QB. He also stops the run better than most top-DE prospects. He has an attitude that a top defensive lineman should. The Yin and Yang of him and Myles Garrett pushes Cleveland’s defensive line into elite company.
- Denver Broncos – Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State
John Elway lucks out. After cutting CJ Anderson a week ago, the Broncos are left without a number one RB. It just so happens that one of the top talents in the draft falls to them to fill this hole. Barkley is capable of hitting a home run on every play. He never has to leave the field. There is no need to draft a QB here. Chad Kelly can develop into the future guy behind Case Keenum.
- Buffalo Bills (from IND) – Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA
Buffalo takes a few of their six top-100 picks and switch with the Colts. Josh Rosen has rubbed some people the wrong way, but he will not fall far. Buffalo is trying to get in front of Miami and needing to stay in front of Arizona to land the QB they have coveted since the new regime arrived. Rosen is the one guy of this class that can be implanted into the starting role from day one and succeed. Durability issues are the only thing to worry about.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, Safety, Florida State
James is the best football player in this draft class. Hands down. He can play deep in coverage. Patrolling near the line of scrimmage as a strong safety is second nature to him. He is a better run defender and pass rusher than most of the linebackers and edge rushers coming out. Derwin James is Kam Chancellor-lite.
- Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson, Offensive Guard, Notre Dame
This is the safest pick in the draft. Nelson is clean as a prospect can be. There are no holes in his game. Nelson is a natural mover when asked to pull in the run game. He gets to linebackers with ease. When he gets ahold of a defender, it is game over. He reunites with his college line coach to block for Mitchell Trubisky for the next decade.
- San Francisco 49ers – Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia
With the looming release of troubled second-year linebacker Reuben Foster, in comes Smith. Roquan is a sideline-to-sideline athlete that has a knack for finding the football. He is the reason Baker Mayfield was not playing against Alabama in the championship. John Lynch replaces a headache with a face-of-the-franchise talent.
- Oakland Raiders – Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State
Jon Gruden’s draft board will be unique because, well, he is unique. Do not count out a receiver here. He will inevitably grab the draft’s best corner. Ward is a shorter corner that plays big. He plays tight man coverage with exceptional hand usage and athleticism. He joins a corner tandem with former college teammate Gareon Conley.
- Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, Defensive Tackle, Washington
With four of the five top QBs gone, the Dolphins elect to fill the Ndamukong Suh sized hole in the middle of the defense. Vea is an athletic marvel for what he can do at his size. Most big defensive tackles have to come off the field on passing downs. Vea does not. He is a space eater that knows how to rush the passer. Versatility earns him the right to be the first DT off the board.
- Indianapolis Colts (from BUF) – Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech
Sometimes, things just work out. GM Chris Ballard is on record saying that there are eight elite non-quarterbacks in this class. Edmunds is on that list. At a young 19 years old, he has the potential to be Brian Urlacher or Ole Miss’ own Patrick Willis. He already measures out at 6-foot- 5 and 250 pounds. As he continues to grow and develop, he will be a pass rush specialist early on. He needs to become more instinctive, but this is a player Colts’ fans should get excited for.
- Washington – Mike Hughes, Cornerback, Central Florida
After sending their slot corner specialist to Kansas City for Alex Smith, the defense has a clear hole. Hughes is an elite athlete with the side-to- side mobility to handle the ever important spot in the league. The athletic profile and frame fits the profile of nickel corner. This pick adds more value with his ability to return kicks.
- Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry, Edge Rusher, Boston College
The Packers hope Derwin James falls. That does not seem likely. Landry is the elite pass rusher that Clay Matthews has not been in recent years. His bend and first step off the edge is special. He fits best in a 3-4 defensive scheme, which Green Bay is switching to under Mike Pettine. Landry is more of a sack specialist than Bradley Chubb (16.5 sacks in 2016). Leg injuries his senior season are why he is available here.
- Arizona Cardinals – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety, Alabama
There is still a talented quarterback on the board. They ignore that. Steve Wilks just saw Tyrann Mathieu leave before he played a snap before him. Find another do-it- all weapon in the secondary. Fitzpatrick rushes the passer like Mathieu. He covers the slot like Mathieu. He plays single high safety better than Mathieu. The Cardinals keep a Honey Badger-esque player for about $6 million cheaper.
- Baltimore Ravens – Connor Williams, Guard/Tackle, Texas
There were two Crimson Tide players that could have fit here. It would only be fitting that Ozzie Newsome would take one last Alabama player in the first round. The fit does not work out. Williams is being knocked for short arms, a poor game against Maryland, and a knee injury that he has fully recovered from. His two healthy seasons as a freshman and sophomore are impressive. He starts as a guard in Baltimore and transitions into the future right tackle.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, Alabama
Los Angeles has a Super Bowl-caliber roster. The offense is set with multiple key players bouncing back from injuries on the offensive line. The defensive line is good. The back end is talented. The place to get the most impact from a rookie is middle linebacker. Someone has to chase down Kareem Hunt, Saquon Barkley, Patrick Mahomes, and Derek Carr in the division. Evans has elite instincts paired with big hit power. Shockingly, Nick Saban has produced another great linebacker.
- Denver Broncos (from SEA) – Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville
The NFL is in for a rude awakening in 2020 with a backfield of Jackson and Saquon Barkley to deal with. This trade costs a steep payment in draft capital to pull off, but Seattle is willing able to get out of the first round. Jackson is a quarterback who has rare athletic ability. His arm strength is second to only Josh Allen. The accuracy issues exist, but he is not being thrown into game snaps day one. A future quarterback battle of Chad Kelly and Jackson will be exciting.
- New England Patriots (from DAL) – Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
The Patriots are in prime position to jump up and get the best offensive tackle on the board. Using the 31st and 43rd (Jimmy G) picks, they replace Nate Solder. McGlinchey comes from a big program and has experience on both sides of the line. A smart, tough, versatile player screams Belichick.
- Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, Defensive End, UTSA
The Lions have gambled on a project defensive end with raw traits in the first round before. They just placed the franchise tag on that player. New head coach Matt Patricia will want to shore up his pass rush, and Davenport is perfect. His arm length is unmatched, his height and weight are freakish, and he has a high ceiling. Davenport can be a 15+ sacks a year player.
- Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, Center/Guard, Iowa
This where the run on a talented crop of interior offensive linemen starts. Daniels is the best center in this class, but he is not limited to the middle. He has the size and strength to play both guard positions. The Bengals finally grab a reliable center after many years of Russell Bodine’s struggles. Daniels and newly acquired tackle Cordy Glenn should stabilize a maligned group. Iowa offensive linemen do not bust.
- Indianapolis Colts (from BUF) – Isaiah Wynn, Offensive Guard, Georgia
The man who is responsible for opening holes for Sony Michel, Deandre Swift, and Nick Chubb is another gift the Colts receive from trading back. Wynn is a career offensive tackle that will kick inside to guard seamlessly. Instead of staying put at six and drafting Quenton Nelson, Indy comes away with a similar player. Wynn and center Ryan Kelly can wreak havoc on defensive lines side-by- side.
- New England Patriots (from LAR) – Josh Jackson, Cornerback, Iowa
Addressing the offensive line was priority number one. Landing Jackson fills the void left by Malcolm Butler. Jackson has top-level ball skills who knows how to cause turnovers. The tall corner played for Kirk Ferentz, one of the best college coaches when it comes to developing players. His production and level of character makes this a perfect fit for the Patriot way.
- Carolina Panthers – Frank Ragnow, Center, Arkansas
Ragnow is a beneficiary of the draft process. At one point, he could have been the best value pick in the second round after an injury plagued season clouded the type of player that he is. Ragnow is a tough- minded center who brings the demeanor and intelligence it takes to be the voice of the offensive line. His size will allow him to replace Andrew Norwell at guard for the Panthers this season while center Ryan Kalil plays out his contract. Ragnow will then move inside to his rightful home.
- Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Boise State
Linebacker turned defensive coordinator turned head coach Mike Vrabel will see himself in Vander Esch. The physically imposing game wrecker brings a lot of athletic prowess to the table. He needs to develop his instincts, which should be no problem with Vrabel at the helm. With resources spent in the secondary and the top pass rushers off the board, this is a logical fit.
- Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, Defensive Tackle, Florida
The first-round hype for Bryan is all traits and projection based. Bryan takes plays off, and he lacks the production that a team would look for in a highly-touted interior defensive lineman. However, he shows flashes of Aaron Donald. He is built similarly to J.J. Watt. His athletic profile and production are extremely similar to Robert Nkemdiche who has had trouble establishing himself in Arizona. Dan Quinn employs the Pete Carroll defense where athletic interior linemen are key to building a pass rush. Bryan is the definition of polarizing.
- New Orleans Saints – Dallas Goedert, Tight End, South Dakota State
For the first time in a decade, the Saints have a defense. The secondary and linebacker core has young talent. The pass rush with Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor is disruptive. The one area to possibly address here is defensive tackle. Goedert gives Drew Brees and Sean Payton another mismatch nightmare. Goedert is in the Evan Engram mold of a receiving threat more than a on-the- line tight end. The Saints wanted a reunion with Jimmy Graham in free agency. Instead, they land a much cheaper, younger, and better unicycling option.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The drought ends. Pittsburgh makes this move in regard to future needs. Martavis Bryant seems to only be on the team for one more year. When he leaves, the receiving core is JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. Ridley is a precision route runner in the mold of Schuster and Brown. He is polished. He has high character. His reliability will endear him to Ben Roethlisberger.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Mason Rudolph, Quarterback, Oklahoma State
Offensive guard and slot corner are the only question marks on the roster outside of quarterback. The Jaguars have developed an offense where Blake Bortles can succeed, but he does not project as a decade long guy under center. Rudolph is close to being NFL ready. Nathaniel Hackett can utilize similar schemes to what Rudolph thrived in at Oklahoma State. Grabbing Rudolph here allows them the luxury of having the fifth-year option a first round pick presents you with.
- Minnesota Vikings – Da’Ron Payne, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
The Vikings lost Tom Johnson and Shemar Stephen in free agency. Sheldon Richardson is in on a one-year deal. Mike Zimmer loves to rotate guys on his defensive line. Payne is an athletic disruptor in the form of Richardson. His best skill will be his ability to affect the pass game. The only real production he had was in the College Football Playoff. The other games leave you wanting more. Zimmer will get the best out of Payne.
- Dallas Cowboys (from NE) – D.J. Moore, Wide Receiver, Maryland
The two biggest needs for Dallas are wide receiver and safety with Byron Jones transitioning back to corner. Jerry Jones adds an extra second round pick to help acquire Earl Thomas. He finds his WR1 in Moore. The combination of route running and agility make Moore a perfect fit for Dallas. He excels in the intermediate areas of the field where Dak Prescott needs to become better at. Playing opposite of Allen Hurns makes this a good tandem.
- Philadelphia Eagles – D.J. Chark, Wide Receiver, LSU
There are no weaknesses on this team. This is a roster that will find itself playing deep into January for the foreseeable future. Chark replaces what Torrey Smith was for this offense. Chark is not a technician that will run the whole route tree. He is a burner. His job is to outrun cornerbacks and get over the top against safeties. He is similar to the other two receivers taken ahead of him in the fact that they were able to impress with lackluster options throwing them the ball. The rich get richer with this pick.