This mock tries to blend where I project players will go with the teams in the slots. It’s far too early for any reasonable expectation of accuracy, especially when so many of the top prospects are undeclared underclassmen. When a pick reflects more of my personal choice than what I believe the team will do, I will indicate as much in the comments.
The draft order is the official current playoff order at the start of NFL Week 11.
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Even though DeShone Kizer has flashed at times, he’s not done enough to prove the Browns shouldn’t try someone else. Rosen looks like a very promising passer with major upside and has shown he can thrive despite a weak supporting cast. He would not be my choice but he’s the best fit of what the NFL types believe a franchise savior at QB should look like.
2. New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. This is assuming Sam Darnold does not declare, which is the loud whisper on the scouting street right now. Jackson has improved his passing touch and anticipation, though the stats don’t reflect his upgrade. His dual-threat ability and easy confidence have star-level upside for a team—and city—desperate for the next great thing.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. Fitzpatrick is NFL-ready coming out of Alabama’s pro-style defense and has both the range and instincts to be very good right away. Similar to Jalen Ramsey two years ago, he can play anywhere in the secondary. The 49ers back end needs help, and Fitzpatrick pairing with impressive rookie Ahkello Witherspoon would solve a lot of problems.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State. A dynamic pass rusher off the edge who also plays well in space, Chubb continues to impress with his all-around football ability. He’d make a nice fit for an Indianapolis defense that needs star power up front.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. With the core of the defense aging, the Bengals could look to reinvigorate the front line with the dynamic Wilkins. He bears some athletic resemblance to J.J. Watt coming out of Wisconsin. Installing Wilkins next to Geno Atkins makes the Bengals DL a fearsome weapon once again.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. I’ll clear this up right away—I do not even consider Allen a draftable prospect. He’s been one of the worst passers and least efficient QBs in college football the last two years despite playing one of the lighter pass defense schedules in both seasons. But he’s got amazing physical attributes and a great story and that will blind some team to the fact he has no real discernible aptitude as a QB. Sorry, Chargers fans. Y’all had a nice run with Phillip Rivers.
7. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. This might seem high for a guard, but he’s as can’t-miss of a prospect as I can recall (sorry for the kiss of death!). Denver’s OL needs a stabilizing force, and Nelson with Garett Bolles at tackle can dramatically improve the offense. This might be my favorite pick of this mock.
8. Cleveland (from HOU): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The buzz has died a little on Barkley, who has topped 75 yards rushing just once in his last six games. But the big-legged back has exceptional versatility and still maximizes yards with the ball in his hands. If Isaiah Crowell bolts Cleveland in free agency (and they might let him too) there is a crying need for a bigger RB to pair with Duke Johnson.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arden Key, DE, LSU. It’s always nice when prospects broaden their game over their college careers. Key has always had the outside rushing sizzle, but he’s added more stoutness and diversity to his repertoire. That makes him a higher-floor prospect to go with his very high ceiling as a pass rusher. The Bucs desperately need someone to impact the opposing QB, and Key fits the bill nicely.
10. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Mitchell Trubisky needs weapons. Ridley, while older than ideal for a prospect, has proven he can catch, run and block even if the stats aren’t eye-popping. In a WR class that lacks distinction, being perceived as the best all-around talent could inflate his value this high.
11. New York Jets: Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Jets need better long-term solutions than Brandon Shell and Kelvin Beachum at offensive tackle, and Williams can be that guy. He’s missed time this year with a knee injury but is expected to be back for the Longhorns this week. As long as he looks close to as good as he was last year, there is little doubt Williams will be a top 20 pick.
12. Arizona Cardinals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. This is another case where thin supply at a critical position makes a team antsy and address something other than a primary need. Brown is a behemoth at tackle and has the ability to play on either the left or the right as a tone-setting presence. The Cardinals are okay at tackle if D.J. Humphries and Jared Veldheer are healthy, but they haven’t been healthy together often enough.
13. Oakland Raiders: DaRon Payne, DT, Alabama. An attack dog widebody inside who shows exceptional play recognition and finishing ability, Payne is a better athlete than credited too. He would bolster a youthful Oakland interior that has some talent but needs more impact.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Price has elevated his game in his senior season and has demonstrated skills that translate at center or guard. He would be a welcome force on the Baltimore interior line chronically battling injury woes.
15. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State. It seems crazy that James could fall this far; he was a consensus top-5 talent entering the year. Other than the Clemson game the impact plays just aren’t there for the safety, who is athletically straight out of central casting. The Dolphins go best player available regardless of position here, and they happen to need his talents on the back end too.
16. Washington: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State. The lanky CB was better in ’16 but still projects as a first-round talent with his outstanding ball-in-air skills and confidence. He’d be a nice fit opposite Josh Norman.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. Hurst is a no-nonsense 3T Rod Marinelli would love on the defensive line in Dallas, where depth and impact have been in short order for years. He’s one of the best at winning leverage battles and getting off blocks.
18. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. Detroit’s anemic pass rush desperately needs an upgrade, and the lithe Landry can provide instant impact. That he can also move well in space and blow up screens and quick slants is even tastier gravy. The Lions cannot enter 2018 with Anthony Zettel as the best pass rusher on the roster.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford. The Falcons continue the youthful overhaul of the defense by adding an underrated piece to the front in Phillips. He’s a bit of a schematic misfit but a higher-end talent than Stanford predecessor Henry Anderson. Might be the best tackling defensive lineman in college football, Atlanta can use that. Who couldn’t?
20. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Buckeyes keep churning out impressive cover corners and Ward is the latest in line. He’s excellent before the pass and while the ball is in the air and scheme-diverse. This is a lot of draft capital for the Packers to spend on a position they’ve sunk so much into recently, but they need a No. 1 CB badly. Note I had WR Christian Kirk here in the initial draft before changing to a better overall player.
21. Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The buzz continues to grow for Mayfield thanks to his Jeff Garcia-esque talents and pluck. The Bills have shown a willingness to roll the dice on QBs, and Mayfield has a lot more going for him than JP Losman or E.J. Manuel did. I suspect they’d prefer if Nathan Peterman proves this pick unnecessary, however.
22. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Some will say Guice is a better NFL prospect than former LSU backfield mate Leonard Fournette. They’re vastly different runners, and the style Guice plays fits Seattle’s offense nicely. He’s a violent speedster with great vision and balance. As is requisite with every Seattle RB, he does have some injury worries, but that’s also why they need him. I’d be very happy with his pick for the Seahawks.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. The top TE prospect (IMO) can win from the slot or even flexed wide with his strong routes and athleticism in space. He’s not a great blocker but the Jaguars almost never use their TEs in pass protection. Another solid weapon for Blake Bortles.
24. Carolina Panthers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. The Panthers opt to continue building up the secondary with Harrison. He’s not optimal in coverage but doesn’t run himself out of position, and his dynamic run defense and closing ability on passes in front of him make him a major threat, something Carolina can use behind the speedy LBs.
25. Tennessee Titans: Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Clemson. Ferrell has an incredible first step off the edge, disruptive and consistent. He’s still learning to finish and stay in control at full burst, but making nice progress. Tennessee has underperformed on the pass rush front despite having some name talent, and Ferrell can remedy that problem.
26. Los Angeles Rams: Carlton Davis CB, Auburn. One of the most physical CBs in man coverage, Davis is a master of using his length and strength to disrupt routes. He’s also a great tackler in the run game. That’s a nice fit for a Rams team that seems to have the offense figured out but remains vulnerable on the outside defensively.
27. Buffalo (from KC): James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Washington is at his best outside the numbers and down the field, where he consistently gets open but can also win contested catches. He’s made an excellent speed complement to Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews for whomever is playing QB in Buffalo.
28. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Finley, QB, North Carolina State. It’s time for the Saints to draft Drew Brees’ successor-in-waiting, and Finley has the poise, accuracy and vision to run the same offense. He’s quietly emerging much in the way Mitchell Trubisky did a year ago.
29. Minnesota Vikings: Martez Ivey, OT, Florida. If he declares, the Gators' left tackle becomes the high-ceiling talent who can play either guard or tackle the Vikings sorely need up front. He’s improved his foot quickness as he kicked outside this season. He’s better than Florida’s offense has allowed him to show.
30. New England Patriots: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Sutton is a polished receiver with excellent size and improved precision to his movement in ’17. He’s got a reputation for being a film junkie and tireless worker, as well as a nasty blocker on the outside. Sounds like the type of player who appeals to Bill Belichick, and he fills a need for a bigger weapon for Tom Brady.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson. The rich get richer as the Steelers add another formidable all-around talent to the defensive front in Bryant. His physicality and high motor while playing with talent all around him make him a safe pick, too.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. The latest in a string of physical and smart off-ball LBs for Alabama, Evans has better range and fluidity in space than most of his predecessors. He’s a Jim Schwartz kind of OLB if the Eagles can keep their defensive coordinator locked up.