The NFL draft is a game of psychological chess where smokescreens, decoys, and fake news is pumped out by GMs so they can throw other teams off their trail. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is also stupid amounts of fun to try to figure these guys out by making mock drafts.
The conversation about what the Detroit Lions will do at 20 is very split. They could trade down for more picks, stay and take a chance on a player like Derrius Guice, or fill a need on the offensive or defensive line. For this mock, I’m not doing trades so what Bob Quinn will choose depends on how picks one through 19 shakes out.
I’m going to be wrong, but so will Mel Kiper. Let’s go.
Pick 1: Cleveland Browns – QB Sam Darnold, USC
The Browns recently ramped up chatter about taking Baker Mayfield as the number one overall pick, but I think this is just John Dorsey playing mind games with the other teams and they will go with Sam Darnold at number one. Cleveland has talked about taking Darnold or Josh Allen for months, but Allen is more of a risk, so I’m going Darnold.
Pick 2: New York Giants – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The Giants could very well take a quarterback with the second overall pick, but Saquon Barkley is the best player in this draft and will give New York a franchise running back that will make an immediate impact.
Pick 3: New York Jets – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Although I like the Joshes (Rosen and Allen) a little more, I think the Jets will play into Cleveland’s chatter about Mayfield and pull the trigger on him at three. New York will like his firecracker personality, too.
Pick 4: Cleveland Browns – DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
If the Giants take a QB with the second pick, you will see Saquon Barkley holding up a Browns jersey here. But since I have Barkley off the board, the next best player up is Chubb. Pairing Chubb up with Myles Garrett will be an absolute nightmare for offensive coordinators.
Pick 5: Denver Broncos – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
After trading Aquib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams, they are in dire need to fill the hole left behind at corner and Ward will be able to step in and hold his own from Day 1. He will not be nearly as physical as Talib, but his speed and agility will make up for that.
Pick 6: Indianapolis Colts – OL Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Andrew Luck is the Colts’ #1 asset, and they need to do more to protect him after coming off such a devastating injury. They have holes on defense that they need to fill, and if the Broncos take Nelson instead of Ward, the Colts will more than likely take a linebacker here. Their first priority is Luck, though.
Pick 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DB Derwin James, FSU
This seems to be the consensus pick for the Bucs from most analysts. They badly need help in the secondary and James will come in and be a fiery leader for the Tampa Bay defense.
Pick 8: Chicago Bears – DE Harold Landry, Boston College
This is a guy that I would love to see fall for Detroit to pick up. I’ve never seen an edge rusher have the kind of bend when flying around offensive tackles like Landry does. The Bears badly need an edge rusher to put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and now Kirk Cousins, and Landry is perfect for that role.
Pick 9: San Fransisco 49ers – LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The more we learn about what is going on with the Ruben Foster case, the less promising it looks. John Lynch stated that if Foster is guilty he will be released, but he may be released anyway given his troubled history, which puts the linebacker position as a big need for the Niners. As a tenacious Will linebacker, Smith is a great fit for the 49ers scheme and mentality.
Pick 10: Oakland Raiders – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The Raiders need players at both CB and Safety, and Fitzpatrick’s supreme versatility will give Jon Gruden some options for how to use him to fill one of those needs.
Pick 11: Miami Dolphins – LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
There is no team who is more confusing with the players they take in and let go than the Dolphins (i.e. Jay Ajayi), which is why they will opt to take an outside linebacker over more pressing needs here. Edmunds can do it all – stop the run, cover, and rush the passer and will be solid for Miami’s defense.
Pick 12: Buffalo Bills – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
It depends on how the quarterback picks play out, but the Bills will most likely go with a QB at 12. The transition from middle-of-nowhere Wyoming to middle-of-nowhere Buffalo will be an easy one to make for Allen. He is a prototypical pocket passer and if coached right, could progress into a franchise player.
Pick 13: Washington Redskins – DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
Washington needs help up front, and Payne will be able to come in and make an immediate impact especially with the run defense. Alabama is known for churning out NFL-ready defensive players, so Payne will transition quickly.
Pick 14: Green Bay Packers – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
After releasing Jordy Nelson, the Packers badly need a receiver for Aaron Rodgers. They signed TE Jimmy Graham in the free agency, which shows that they are trying to revamp their pass game and Ridley is widely viewed as the best wide receiver in this draft.
Pick 15: Arizona Cardinals – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Rosen is the most NFL-ready quarterback in his class, and the Cardinals need to have a contingency plan for when Sam Bradford inevitably gets injured.
Pick 16: Baltimore Ravens – DL Marcus Davenport, UTSA
The Ravens could go a number of routes here. They need to give Flacco some weaponry to work with. Hell, they need to get a new quarterback altogether. But Baltimore has always had a defense-first mindset and Davenport could give them a good edge rusher for the future.
Pick 17: Los Angeles Chargers – LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St.
Vander Esch could be a reach at 17, but the Chargers badly need an inside linebacker. Watching his film, he shows incredible instincts with both the run game and in coverage. He will be a good piece to go with a Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram-led defense.
Pick 18: Seattle Seahawks – OL Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
If you have ever watched a Seahawks game, then you have witnessed the Swiss cheese that is their offensive line. McGlinchey is widely projected to be taken a lot higher in this draft, so Seattle will be more than happy to see him drop this far and give Russel Wilson some protection.
Pick 19: Dallas Cowboys – DT Vita Vea, Washington
Dallas may certainly go with a wide receiver to replace Dez Bryant, here. Vea both fills a need and is the best player available here, though. He is an incredible force to deal with and will be a great fit to plug up the run game.
Pick 20: Detroit Lions – DT Taven Bryan, Florida
If Harold Landry falls this far tomorrow, expect Bob Quinn to pull the trigger on him instead. There is a lot of chatter about whether the Lions should take RB Derrius Guice here, but as Quinn stated in his pre-draft presser the running back position is very deep throughout the entire draft, so I don’t think he takes Guice. As he has shown in the past, Quinn likes the product that Florida puts out which is why I have him tapping into that program again here.
Bryan is unique in that he can make a difference with both the run game and pressure the QB up the middle. He has an inhuman first step off the ball, which makes him incredibly difficult to handle for an offensive lineman, and his athleticism makes him very versatile. He needs to learn how to use his hands to effectively shed blockers, which is very coachable as I noted earlier today.
Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals – OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Wynn played LT at Georgia, but he will more than likely translate to a guard in the NFL. Very fundamentally sound. He has good footwork and is great using his hands to engage defenders. I would not mind seeing him go to Detroit, but I don’t think Quinn is taking an OL in the first round.
Pick 22: Buffalo Bills – OL James Daniels, Iowa
After taking Josh Allen with the 12th pick, the Bills will look to give him some protection with a very good center in Daniels. He is impressively quick off the ball and will be able to jump right in and help shore up a weak offensive line.
Pick 23: New England Patriots – LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Bill Belichick’s first of two picks in this round. Evans can be used in a number of different ways to help give New England multiple looks to their defense.
Pick 24: Carolina Panthers – CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Carolina runs a base Cover 3 zone defense which makes Jackson, a zone corner, a perfect fit for their scheme.
Pick 25: Tennessee Titans – WR Deon Cain, Clemson
They took a WR in the first round last year, and I think they will do it again this year. The Titans’ wideouts struggled mightily all season which led to a tight end being Marcus Mariota’s go-to receiver. Cain was a decent route runner with the ability to separate at Clemson, which is why I have him going here.
Pick 26: Atlanta Falcons – DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
The big question for Hurst is whether or not a team will take a chance on him in the first round because of his heart condition. If he does fall because of this and his heart doesn’t keep him out, Hurst could be a steal for the Falcons who need a defensive tackle.
Pick 27: New Orleans Saints – TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
With a solid roster in place and Drew Brees on the tail end of his career, the Saints are in win-now-mode and will look to add another weapon on offense. Hurst is the best tight end in the draft and will be used in a wide variety of roles for Sean Payton’s offense.
Pick 28: Pittsburgh Steelers – DB Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
Bates has great instincts and great ball skills which will give the Steelers a solid safety going forward, which they are in need of.
Pick 29: Jacksonville Jaguars – OL Will Hernandez, UTEP
The Jags will happily take Hernandez falling to them. This will give Leonard Fournette a bulldozer to clear holes for him and will solidify Jacksonville’s pass blocking.
Pick 30: Minnesota Vikings – OL Connor Williams, Texas
Williams is seen by a few analysts as the best offensive lineman in the draft. The Vikings will look to add some insurance and protection for their investment in Kirk Cousins.
Pick 31: New England Patriots – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Bill Belichick will shake things up with his second pick in the first round and take the hotly-debated quarterback. Jackson will learn a lot behind Tom Brady, and if Brady ever retires will give offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a mobile quarterback with questionable accuracy. The last time McDaniels had a quarterback of that description, he went to the playoffs. The QB? Tim Tebow.
Pick 32: Philadelphia Eagles – RB Derrius Guice, LSU
If Guice does not get picked up by Detroit or New England, don’t be surprised if he falls to Philly. He will be an immediate impact player and give the Eagles even more of a case to be super bowl contenders for a second consecutive season.