Here we go.
Picks 1-32, and why. It will be thoroughly entertaining to see how wildly wrong I turn out to be. Just for starters, neither of my first two picks are a QB. I stand by that. They’re the only two sure fire home runs in this draft.
Hit me on twitter (@tomcapo57) and tell me who you want to see on your sideline next season. Or just make fun of me. That’s cool, too.
1 Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Common consensus among the draft experts is that the Browns MUST take a QB at number one, since they also have the fourth pick. Here’s my question. Why? They’ve proven to be wildly incompetent drafting quarterbacks. Take Saquon Barkley at number one, then take the best QB left at four. Why? Two reasons. First, Barkley will make whatever QB you get at four much, much better. Second, the risk of missing on Barkley is a game changer, and if the Giants decide that Manning is ok for this year, they will snap him up.
2 NY Giants- Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Here’s the thing. I don’t think the Giants will take a QB at two. I think they’re more likely to draft on the defensive side of the ball with this high pick, and Bradley Chubb looks like a sure thing out of NC State. He’s the best pass rusher in this draft, and I’m not sure it’s close. They can use their high second round pick to draft a groom-able future replacement at quarterback and see how it goes from there with an upgraded defense. Let’s be honest here. Eli Manning was NOT the Giants biggest issue last season, in fact, he was exactly the guy he’s been for his whole career, only last season he did it without NFL-caliber receivers after they all got injured.
3 NY Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
These guys do need a quarterback, and badly. Rosen is the logical choice here. They traded up to get up to number three, so they’re hunting big game. While Darnold might also be tempting, I think Rosen’s polish makes him the pick here. The Jets are looking to compete in the improving AFC East. Getting the right guy under center is job one.
4 Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
IF the Browns pick a QB at number one, I think Darnold should be their guy, anyway. So if they get him at four and don’t risk missing on Barkley, it’s a win-win. Many experts have intimated that Josh Rosen wouldn’t fit in with Cleveland’s culture. That’s football-speak for “he fancy”. I agree. Darnold is most decidedly not. He’s a grinder with a big arm that can maximize Josh Gordon’s speed down the sidelines. He’s also, I think, a safer choice at the position.
5 Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I’m not sure that Josh Allen is exactly what John Elway is looking for in a QB at number five. I think he’d prefer Darnold, but the chances of that happening without a four-five swap are probably minimal. Fun fact, this will be the first time in history that two guys named Josh will be picked in the top five of anything since the Teaticket Elementary School Lunchtime Kickball draft in 1982.
6 Indianapolis Colts- Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
Defense, defense, defense. The Colts are theoretically set at QB, assuming that there’s no horrific news out of Andrew Luck’s camp, so they’ll look to bolster their defense with this high selection. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is the best corner on the market, and has lock-down potential. In today’s pass happy NFL, building a defense from the secondary out makes some sense.
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
The offensive side of the ball could use a little help, possibly at guard, but I think that young group is in generally good shape. The priority in TB should be defense. Again, creating a reliable secondary, especially in the NFC South, where top tier QB’s are the rule (Brees,Newton, Ryan) will be crucial to the Buccaneers ability to contend. Fitzpatrick played EVERYWHERE for Nick Saban and is as versatile in the secondary as any player over the last few years. He can be anywhere on the field and make plays. You’ve been warned.
8 Chicago Bears- Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
I struggle with this pick. The Bears might also be looking to upgrade at offensive guard, but I think improving the LB corps is a stronger move. Edmunds makes sense, he’s got a nose for the ball and can move quickly downhill when the play calls for it. He’ll be the sort of guy that makes splash tackles in the backfield with regularity.
9 San Francisco 49ers- Sam Hubbard, DE Ohio State
The Niners are a hot sleeper pick for the playoffs this season. Jimmy G seems to have revitalized the team and Kyle Shanahan is proving to be more boom than bust. Now we get to see if GM John Lynch lives up to his billing. He needs to find production on the edge. After Chubb, there isn’t a clear next best edge rusher in this class, but Hubbard can be that guy. His high motor and work ethic will resonate with Lynch, as will his high football IQ.
10 Oakland Raiders- Joshua Jackson, DB, Iowa
The Raiders need a guy in their secondary who can take balls away. Jackson just might be the right fit. He’s the top producer among this year’s relatively weak DB class. He had eight picks this season, including a monster game against Ohio State with three takeaways. Not blistering fast for a corner at 4.56 for the 40, but he’s got the ball skills to start immediately.
11 Miami Dolphins- Vita Vea, DL, Washington
With the departure of Ndamukong Suh, Miami will be looking to bolster their defensive line. Vea is a monster at 6’4’’, 347 and surprising lateral quickness. He’s a beast who can bowl over anyone and would fit well as a nose tackle. He’ll be a run stopper. Think Haloti Ngata, only a little bigger, if that’s possible.
12 Buffalo Bills-Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
High risk/high reward. Mayfield could be off the board at this point, and certainly would be if not for his height (officially 6’0”) and a string of off the field shenanigans that have some people thinking that he might be Johnny Manziel 2.0. On the plus side, he’s a steady, accurate passer who works through his progressions like a professional. He’s got shades of Drew Brees if he hunkers down and makes the most of his opportunity.
13 Washington- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
Washington will be looking to shore up their run defense in the draft this year. Payne is a tremendous scheme player who stays on assignment and does his job. He’s more of a run stopper than a pass rusher, but that might be just what the doctor ordered in Washington this offseason.
14 Green Bay Packers- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
It won’t be the first time two Alabama players get drafted back to back, it won’t be the last. Ridley is a great fit to fill the hole left by the loss of Jordy Nelson. He’s fast, at 4.43 for the forty,but not big, at 6’0”. Aaron Rodgers will be fine with that.
15 Arizona Cardinals-Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
From the Cardinals to the Cardinals. Lamar Jackson is a bit of a curious case this year. He’s the most electric of the QB prospects this year. Michael Vick, but with more potential…Teammates know he’s a QB, but some draft commentators see him playing WR at the next level. I don’t see that. I see a 6’2” guy with great mobility and a cannon for an arm that might end up being the best in this draft class.
16 Baltimore Ravens- Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
OK, hear me out. I know that at 5’10”, Andrews isn’t the big, physical TE that Ravens fans might want to see, but size isn’t everything. He’s a skilled route runner and pass catcher who can make big plays. He’s not a physical blocker, but will be a versatile weapon for Joe Flacco and company.
17 LA Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Phillip Rivers needs time, and when he has it, he’s deadly. McGlinchey can help. He’s 6’8”, but quick for 312 lbs. He’s very technique focused and is the most skilled blocker in the draft. He’ll be able to slot in straight away at right tackle.
18 Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Seahawks need A LOT. Their offensive line was among the worst in football last year. Their vaunted secondary is completely gone. They are in dire need of a running back. I don’t know where to start. So I’ll go to a guy who plays on the O-line and shouldn’t be available at this point. Quenton Nelson is a monster, who only slips this far if too many teams are QB focused. He should go closer to the top ten overall. He knocks people over for a living and will do so for a long time in the NFL.
19 Dallas Cowboys- Roquon Smith, ILB, Georgia
Dallas is also in the market for a wide receiver, but I think LB is the best place for them to start. Roquon Smith is a sideline to sideline tackling machine who won the Butkus Award this season. He’s just a little on the small side, so he can be blocked by oversized OL’s. That’s the onlyreason I see him falling outside of the top ten.
20 Detroit Lions- Arden Key, DE, LSU
Upside. This is a little bit of a gamble here at twenty, but Key is still developing. He’s long (6’6”) and fast. He can get to the quarterback off the edge in a blink. If he adds some mass without losing quickness, he’ll be a top-tier defender.
21 Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
The Bengals run game was a mess last year, and the offensive line needs some work to get it going again. Price is a little bit of a mystery, as he tore a pectoral muscle at the combine. He’s the top center in the draft, but the injury will keep some teams away, as will the lack of combine data. I can see the Bengals gambling on Price’s upside.
22 Buffalo Bills- Derwin James, SS, Florida St.
Assuming that the Bills don’t package this pick and the twelfth pick to move up (they totally might), they’ll be looking for help on defense here. Derwin James is 6’2”, 215 with a 40” vertical and can play all over the field. He’s tremendous on the blitz and in coverage, but less effective against the run thus far. He’s going to improve that aspect of his game and anchor someone’s secondary for a long time.
23 New England Patriots- Harrison Phillips, DE, Stanford
Everyone’s looking for the Patriots to package and trade this pick, and perhaps the other first rounder for some known commodities. I can see that happening. Belichick likes second round picks and has a better feel for valuation at that level. That being said, the Patriots are aging rapidly all over the field and need strong, smart players that will buy in to the Hoodie’s scheme-first defense. Phillips is an academic All-American and has played all over the defensive line for Stanford. He’s a great piece for the defense of the future in New England.
24 Carolina Panthers- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Size and strength are Sutton’s primary attributes. He’s not lighting fast, and he doesn’t tend to separate like some smaller, quicker guys, but he can go up and get the ball when the game is on the line. I think he’ll be a great fit in Carolina, where Cam Newton is missing his favorite oversized target, Kelvin Benjamin.
25 Tennessee Titans- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Old timers. Yes. This is Orlando Brown Jr. His dad went by Zeus, and played eleven seasons in the NFL. Brown is big, even by OL standards and mean, even by OL standards. He’s not technical, and he had a nightmare of a combine, but he could be a tremendous run stuffer in theright system.
26 Atlanta Falcons- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Taven Bryan is my second pick for the Falcons in this slot. It would have been Maurice Hurst from Michigan, but the irregular heartbeat detected at the combine prevented him from showing his stuff, so he’ll more than likely slip out of the first round. Taven Bryan is a solid pick attwenty-six, though. He’s 6’4”, a little under 300lbs, and clocked in under five seconds in the forty.
27 New Orleans Saints- Mike Hughes, DB, Central Florida
Best available player alert. The Saints are likely looking for a TE, or a WR here, but there’s not a ton of first round talent left on the board at those positions. Hughes is a legit threat on specialteams, bringing it back to the house three times last season. He’s also turned into a covercorner with good burst and the ability to change the game in a heartbeat.
28 Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama
The Steelers will like the idea of shoring up the ir secondary with a hard-hitting playmaker like Harrison. He’s been among Alabama’s top tacklers the past few years, and finds his way toseveral interceptions per year. He occasionally gets beat by jumping routes too early, but NFLcoaching will likely break him of that bad habit.
29 Jacksonville Jaguars- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
OK. I know this guy isn’t in a lot of guy’s top fifty. I get it.Former walk-on. Boise St.Not a lot of college experience. Some probably nonsensical rumors that a few teams have ruled him out based on a medical issue.But if Jacksonville is smart, they grab a huge upside guy here, late in the first round. He had a monster combine and if he’s available two picks later, the Patriots very likely jump on him.
30 Minnesota Vikings- Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn
The Vikings don’t have a lot of position speci fic needs at this point. They’re a really well balanced team on both sides of the ball. Davis, however, could make one of the league’s bestsecondaries even better. Davis is a super long, tough press corner that can make plays inspace and lock down a whole side of the field.
31 New England Patriots- Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Is this when the Patriots try to draft Tom Brady’s heir apparent? Honestly? I don’t thi nk so.They also have two second round picks and seldom covet the same quarterbacks that other teams want. They’re far more likely to stack talent. Michel is just the kind of guy that the Pat riots turn into a game day stud. He’s got great hands in the passing game, blocks with vigorand had good late burst. Most of his touchdowns for Georgia came on longer (15 yards +). He’d be a great weapon in Tom Brady’s arsenal.
32 Philadelphia Eagles- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Eagles, like the Vikings, don’t have a lot of pressing needs, but you can always use a long, fast tackling machine, right? Evans is super versatile, and would fit well into any pro system immediately. He’s absolutely shined in the past few national championship games, so he’sgood in big moments. On the field, he ranges sideline to sideline and doesn’t get fool easily by offensive misdirection. He’ll be a tremendous addition at linebacker to the reigning champs.