Welcome to the BIGPLAY NFL mock draft. Here we break down picks 1-10, with a few assumptions:
- Top 10 team does not land Cousins, or another starting QB (Case Keenum, another MN quarterback) before the draft
- There are no trades within the top 10
- Josh Rosen doesn’t pull a Kyrie Irving and tell the Browns he’s having knee surgery if they draft him
Without any further ado…
1. Cleveland Browns
- Josh Rosen QB- UCLA
It’s a no brainer, Cleveland. Kizer is garbage (really nice guy, but garbage). His issues in college at Notre Dame have unfortunately translated well to the NFL, and they don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. You can’t teach accuracy within the pocket (no matter what Kizer apologists tell you), and it’s time to move on. You can’t keep trading down and hope to land your guy outside of the first pick…especially if you’re the Browns front office.
Even with Josh Rosen’s 10 INTs last year, he’s proven to be the top prospect and most efficient pocket passer in the 2018 QB class, completing 62.7% of passes in 2017. While the numbers between he and Darnold are very similar, game tape shows a sizable difference in pocket passing between the two top 2 picks. That could be offensive line related, or Rosen’s extra year in the system…but either way…Rosen is a much more sure fire thing that Darnold.
Cleveland lands their franchise QB in Rosen, and takes a quarterback #1 for the first time since Tim Couch.
Don’t worry Josh…you’re walking into a much better situation than Tim…even though it looks much worse at 0-16.
Side note: I really want to put Saquon Barkley here, but can’t quite yet until post-combine.
Top needs: QB, RB, CB
2. New York Giants
- Minkah Fitzpatrick CB- Alabama
Giants fans should be licking their lips at the prospect of Minkah Fitzpatrick shoring up their defense. The G-Men could go QB here, but we have a feeling that Eli will convince them that he can lead this team for a few more years now that McAdoo is history.
In who many think is the top prospect in this draft, the Bama CB/Safety would bring an immediate presence to the 2nd worst passing defense in the entire NFL.
The offense has the weapons to succeed with a competent coach…now go reload your D.
3. Indianapolis Colts
- Bradley Chubb DE- NC State
The Colts are once again a bad team. Andrew Luck will help that in 2018…but the road back to contention will be long for the Indy faithful. 21 yr old Marlon Mack has shown flashes, and somewhat proven that he belongs in the NFL despite a lackluster 3.8 ypc average. Sure, it would be nice to take a shot at Penn State’s Saquon Barkley here, but it’s not their top need. In 2017, the Colts ranked 29th against the rush, and 30th against the pass. They need a complete, well rounded edge rusher, and Bradley Chubb is as good as it gets.
He doesn’t have Myles Garrett potential, but a small tier down from freak of nature status isn’t a knock on Chubb.
Had Indy come away with the #1 overall pick, this selection would remain unchanged.
Top needs: LB, O-Line, Edge
4. Cleveland Browns
- Saquon Barkley RB- PSU
Cleveland’s secondary was atrocious this year. When Brett Hundley murders you to make a 14 point comeback in your own stadium…DB help is needed. Yet I think that the Browns will wait on cornerback until rounds 2-3 (they have a heap of picks, including 3 in the second round). John Dorsey has already come out and said he will take the best players available…and Saquon is exactly that. Barkley is the most complete back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson.
Rosen and Barkley to transform the Cleveland offense long term? Not a bad look, Browns fans.
Top needs: QB, RB, CB
5. Denver Broncos
- Sam Darnold QB- USC
Sam Darnold decided to forgoe his senior year at USC and head to the NFL. And while many think the 20 year old should head back to college, we think it’s the right call. While incredibly raw, and not nearly as consistent as Rosen in his pocket passing/decision making skills, his upside is worth the pick here at #5.
Darnold would be walking into the perfect situation in Denver, who now have the pieces in place to compete for a playoff berth.
In full disclosure, I really like Darnold for how much I rip on him on Twitter. He just needs an actual offensive line…sadly one of the Broncos top needs. More of the same, Sam. Look for the Broncos to draft O-Line with their second pick.
Top needs: O-Line, QB, RB
Top needs: OG, QB
6. New York Jets
- Lamar Jackson QB- Louisville
The lack of hype around Lamar Jackson from 2016 to 2017 is interesting. He’s put up similar numbers to his Heisman campaign of 2016, but no one seems to have noticed. Jackson has improved as a pure passer in his time with Louisville, and significantly upgrades the QB room for the struggling Jets.
Jackson has become more efficient each year at Louisville, starting his career at 54.7% passing, moving to 56.2% in year two, and then again to 59.1% in his final year. While the 59.1% completion rate is nothing to brag about, it shows that he’s getting better, and that he may in fact have no ceiling.
And if you can improve your 19th ranked rushing attack with the same pick…well that’s just an added bonus.
We’ve seen a reach like this before in the Bills selection of EJ Manuel at 16 in 2013. Obviously that didn’t work out, but Jackson’s talent level is also 1000x that of Manuel.
Bring back McCown, let Jackson learn for a year, and reap the benefits.
Top needs: QB, OT
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Denzel Ward CB- Ohio State
The past few years have proven that Urban Meyer’s OSU stars transition well into quality NFL players. Denzel Ward is no exception. The Bucs offense has the players to compete as a contender, so defense is the right call in the first round. Look for Tampa Bay to swipe up Ward in the first, and go edge rusher is the subsequent rounds.
As good as Minkah is, Ward may end up being the best defensive back in this class.
Top needs: CB, ILB, OT
Top needs: DE, CB
8. Chicago Bears
- Mike McGlinchey OT- Notre Dame
The Bears need to look at free agency and post-1st round picks to shore up their 30th ranked aerial attack. No matter how bad their current WR corps may be, I think the Kevin White wound in Chicago is still open, new management or not.
In round 1, they can indirectly help their franchise QB by buying Mitch Trubisky more time. The most well rounded and polished OT in this year’s class is Mike McGlinchey out of Notre Dame. He’s NFL ready, and can step in immediately to start on either side of the ball.
Bears fans won’t like this pick given that you’ll find more raw, physically fitted lineman in this draft, but let’s face it. The best lineman in this league aren’t freak athletes. They are proven, consistent blockers who don’t miss games, and keep their QB on the field. Sorry Bears fans…it’s not sexy, but take a step back after that wild Mitch Trubisky trade and get back to basics.
Top needs: WR, OL
9. San Francisco 49ers
- Calvin Ridley WR- Alabama
Jimmy G was the perfect replacement to Tom Brady. A super good looking dude who wins football games. What was New England thinking? No wonder there’s bickering between Belichik and Brady as we head into the final stretch of the year.
The 49ers need to double down on Jimmy G and supply him with an additional weapon to have sustained success throughout an entire 16 game season. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the clear cut top WR in this class. And while some may consider it a reach at 9…the 49ers are playing with house money after fleecing the Patriots on their new franchise QB.
How good will Garoppolo be with a clear cut #1? We can hear Bill Belichick pouting already.
Top needs: WR, OL
10. Oakland Raiders
- Roquan Smith LB- Georgia
Roquan Smith can do it all. He’s a perfect mix or pass coverage and run support, the former being a huge need for Oakland. Smith would help shore up the slot passing attack while pressuring the QB with pro bowl stuff Khalil Mack.