At 8 p.m. EST the NFL Draft kicks off in Dallas. With just a few hours before the draft, here are my final projections for the first round.
1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Apparently, Cleveland loves Baker, and as of this morning he is the consensus favorite to be picked first overall. There’s a chance it’s all smoke, but as of now it sounds inevitable.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Darnold is still on the board and a trade remains an option, but almost any trade would take the Giants out of Barkley range. I think Barkley is the player the Giants covet and they will pass on a QB to secure him.
3. New York Jets (from IND): Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets once again watch top tier talent to fall in their lap in round one. If Darnold does get to 3, I think the Jets need to take him. They may finally get their franchise QB.
4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
With Barkley off the board, Cleveland grabs Chubb to play opposite Myles Garrett. The Browns pass rush would have potential to be elite.
5. Denver Broncos: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
There are rumors that the Broncos want to deal the pick, but they also covet Denzel Ward. With threats of the Packers moving up to grab an elite DB, the Broncos shouldn’t trade back and hope he falls. They stay at pick 5 and get their guy.
6. [TRADE] Buffalo Bills (from IND thru NYJ): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Buffalo has the ammo, and the Colts need more draft capital; it’s a perfect trade off. The Bills come up to grab their QB.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
I think Minkah Fitzpatrick is the best player on the board, but I think Tampa Bay is more interested in local product, Derwin James.
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
This is great value for the Bears. They can replace Josh Sitton with Nelson and protect their franchise QB.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers are targeting Edmunds in this draft. Given the legal issues with Reuben Foster, this is a necessary pick.
10. [TRADE] Green Bay Packers (from OAK): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Green Bay moves up to acquire an elite DB. Denzel Ward was their preferred choice, but Fitzpatrick’s versatility gives him a higher ceiling and is enticing enough for the Packers to move up 4 spots.
11. Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Miami watches Josh Rosen tumble all the way to 11, and the Dolphins can’t pass on an elite talent like Rosen.
12. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts (from BUF thru CIN): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Somehow, Roquan Smith has slid all the way to 12, and the Colts get a player they may have been targeting at 6.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Washington is in need of some interior defensive lineman. Vea is the best player on the board and a popular option.
14. [TRADE] Oakland Raiders (from GB): Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Raiders move back and add extra draft picks and Da’Ron Payne, who may end up being a better pro than Vita Vea.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Cardinals have many needs, but Lamar Jackson has to go eventually. This is an ideal landing spot as Bradford is on a one year deal.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
With Jackson and the DT’s off the board, the Ravens add a tackle opposite Ronnie Stanley to strengthen the offensive line.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Vander Esch has been a big riser in this process. I think he has surpassed Rashaan Evans and would be a good gamble for the Chargers in the middle of the first.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia
The Seahawks address their need at guard by adding an interior offensive lineman. Wynn played tackle as well as guard and could play anywhere for the Seahawks from day one.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Cowboys have expressed a ton of interest in Courtland Sutton. I think they make him the first receiver to come off the board.
20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Lions need to get some life into the running game, and Guice is best RB on the board. He runs angry and with a purpose, the ideal fit for the Lions.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF) : Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Bengals offensive line is atrocious, so they grab the best offensive lineman here to begin reshaping their offensive line.
22. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts (from BUF thru KC): Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Colts add a replacement for Rashaan Melvin, maybe even an upgrade by selecting Alexander.
23. New England Patriots (from LAR): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Patriots add a replacement for Malcolm Butler.
24. Carolina Panthers: Connor Williams, OT/OG, Texas
The Panthers grab a replacement for Andrew Norwell.
25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College
Landry is one of the premier edge rushers in this class. He could be really nice value for the Titans late in the first.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons lost Dontari Poe to free agency and need a long term solution at defensive tackle.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
The Saints add the best receiving TE and the heir to Jimmy Graham in New Orleans.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Steelers have a need at linebacker after the Shazier injury. Evans can play inside or outside and should carve out a role immediately.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Jaguars are in need of a replacement for Allen Robinson.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Vikings need more offensive line help. Brown projects as a right tackle, but he could see time at guard given the current depth chart in Minnesota.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The Patriots replaced Malcolm Butler; now they find the replacement for Nate Solder.
32. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts (from PHI): Marcus Davenport, DE/LB, UTSA
The Colts have an excess of picks and use some of that capital to grab the sliding Marcus Davenport. Once viewed as a top 10 pick, Davenport is great value for the Colts who need pass rushing help desperately.