With the NFL Combine behind us and free agency set to open in less than a week, comes volume 2 of our 2018 mock draft series. In recent weeks, plenty of rumors have hinted at Buffalo looking for potential trade partners to move up in the first round and select a quarterback. Throughout the offseason, general manager Brandon Beane has maintained the stance that they’re not opposed to that idea but would have to know they’re getting their guy to pull the trigger.
There are still plenty of dominoes yet to fall that will ultimately reveal more about the Bills intentions come April 26, but why wait, when we can pretend to know their intentions and mock it.
Once again, we’re sticking with only the first round in this mock, but I’ve now introduced trades into the equation after keeping them out of the initial version. Will the Bills really go after one of those quarterbacks pictured above? See for yourself and decide whose picks you like better.
S– Sam Darnold, QB USC: There’s been a lot of talk about the Browns taking Saquon Barkley and tempting as it may be, Cleveland simply can’t afford to let the two teams that draft next dictate who their franchise QB will be. Would you let someone else choose your wife for you? The Browns have been linked to almost all these quarterbacks. In this case, I think Darnold is their guy.
N– Sam Darnold, QB USC: Like many years in the past, Cleveland needs a quarterback. Darnold will be a project by many accounts, but could be worth it in the end.
S – *TRADE* Bills (From Giants) … Josh Rosen, QB UCLA: As the offseason has moseyed along, there’s been several rumors surface that the Bills are looking to trade up. How they address some of their more dire needs like defensive tackle and linebacker during free agency next week will perhaps provide more insight into that thinking. We’ll see, but with Cleveland taking Darnold first that’s one less quarterback for other quarterback-needy teams to choose from. Buffalo isn’t gonna wait around and see what’s left at 21 and 22 and they see an opportunity to move up in the draft for their guy, Rosen.
This is the best of both worlds for the teams involved. Buffalo jumps ahead of teams like Denver and the Jets and land a QB, while the Giants – who have just five picks in the draft after trading for LB Alec Ogletree – need picks. Of course, trading up into the top 2 comes at a lofty price. If you look back at some of the recent trades teams made to move up in the first round, they all included two first-round picks from the team moving up. Generally, those came in the form of their current year first rounder as well as the following year’s. Fortunately for the Bills, they can probably get away with keeping their 2019 first rounder because they have two first rounders to offer this year. Those packaged with one of their two second rounders, and maybe a second and some sort of package of picks next year should get the job done. Perhaps throwing in an asset like Cordy Glenn as has been suggested gets it done as well. In the long run, it’ll all be worth it though to finally have that franchise QB they’ve coveted since Jim Kelly retired in 1996.
N– Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State: Eli Manning will remain and help on the O-line is needed, but a huge combine by Barkley has his stock skyrocketing.
S– Bradley Chubb, DE North Carolina: An easy choice for a team with a desperate need for pass rushers. They get the best one in the class in Chubb, who according to some reports is the top overall player on several team’s boards.
N– Bradley Chubb, DE North Carolina: Indy always seems to have glaring needs on defense, getting to opposing quarterback is among them.
4) Browns (Via Houston)
S– Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State: Well, well, well. The Browns patience in waiting for Barkley pays off, as he’s still available at fourth overall. Cleveland has a decision to make here choosing between Barkley and Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick but opt for surrounding their new quarterback with a much-needed weapon.
N– Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State: After addressing their biggest need offensive, Cleveland address their biggest need defensively here.
S– Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame: The Broncos seem dead set on finding a quarterback through free agency, possibly believing they’re still only some solid QB play away from being Super Bowl contenders again. They were linked to Kirk Cousins, but that ship seems to have sailed. Rumor has it they’re next option is Case Keenum. If it’s a veteran they’re after, I’m operating on the premise that they find one, which means they target another need in the draft and grab Nelson to help bolster the offensive line.
N– *TRADE* Jets (from Broncos) … QB Josh Rosen, UCLA: With Rosen falling to fifth, the Jets should freak out and believe someone else will try to grab him here, assuming Denver gets a free agent QB. So they trade up one spot.
S– Josh Allen, QB Wyoming: The Jets are one of the teams still vying for top free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, who it appears has cut his list down to two teams, including the Vikings. Minnesota has something New York doesn’t though in that they are better suited for a Super Bowl run, having lost in the NFC Championship back in January. So assuming the Jets don’t win the Cousins sweepstakes, they need a QB, and after getting leapfrogged by the Bills who snag Josh Rosen, the Jets select the other Josh, Allen.
N– *TRADE* Broncos (from Jets) … Josh Allen, QB Wyoming: Just because your trade partner takes a QB, doesn’t mean you can’t. If Denver gets a free agent, Allen would be a good fit to give him time to learn behind a guy like Case Keenum.
S– Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Alabama: A no-brainer for a team that posted the NFL’s worst passing defense a season ago. Fitzpatrick is versatile and can play any of the secondary positions. He’s best suited for the safety spot and could really help turnaround Tampa Bay’s defense.
N–Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Alabama: After Ward, in a bit of a surprise, goes to Cleveland, the Bucs address their pass defense with Fitzpatrick.
S– Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama: The Bears got their quarterback of the future last year in Mitch Trubisky, but he can’t do it all alone and Kevin White has been an utter disappointment with all those injuries. Time to get Trubisky some weapons.
N–WR Courtland Sutton, SMU: In the “get a playmaker for EJ Manuel” sense, Sutton will be that for Mitchell Trubisky.
S– *TRADE* Cardinals (from 49ers) … Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma: When the Cardinals come knocking on John Lynch’s door looking to trade up, he can’t refuse the possibility of more draft capital that comes with it. Arizona needs a quarterback, and worried that in two picks the Dolphins may be looking to find a replacement for Ryan Tannehill, they make a move to ensure they get their first choice of who’s left, grabbing Mayfield.
N–Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: Davenport’s measurables are off the charts at 6-foot-6 and 264-pounds. With Jimmy G in town, pass rush needs are addressed.
S– Roquan Smith, LB Georgia: Despite fellow inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds turning heads at the NFL Combine, I still think Smith is the top dog at the position. Oakland takes him here hoping to solidify the middle of their defense with a young talent.
N– *TRADE* Bills (from Raiders) … QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: The big trade has finally arrived. After hearing the coach-speak from general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott at the NFL combine, it sounds like the Bills want to package together some items and move up in the draft for a quarterback. The target for many is Rosen. But it’s almost too obvious that the Bills are interested in Rosen. I’m viewing that as a bit of a smokescreen.
So why trade to 10? Well, the Dolphins at 11 could certainly want him. Additionally, on Mayfield’s antics, I can see Mc-Beane falling for Mayfield’s story which would outweigh any concerns. He transferred schools, earned his job, and won a Heisman. If it wasn’t for his arrest and lower-body grab, everyone would love Mayfield. Sure, there’s his size, too. But I’m a firm believer that accuracy is the most important tool to analyze when drafting a QB and Mayfield has it. Brian Daboll featured a run-heavy offense at Alabama which the Bills could see more of with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory. But Daboll can get creative with Mayfield while working him into the NFL game, too. Oakland’s biggest need is probably at linebacker, but with a deep linebacker class, moving back will still allow the Raiders to address that need and more.
In the deal, Oakland receives both of the Bills first-round picks (21 & 22) for No. 10 overall. The value of the Bills’ pick is approximately worth the seventh-overall pick, so Oakland tosses in a third-round pick (75).
S– Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State – Missing out on four of the top five quarterbacks in this draft, Miami stands pat with Ryan Tannehill as their man heading into next season as they wisely address their biggest need on defense.
N– Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame: The Dolphins will be thrilled if Ryan Tannehill can stay on the field this season. A high-pick addressing that will help.
S– Mike McGlinchey, T Notre Dame: Cincinnati desperately needs to upgrade that offensive line and McGlinchey is a plug-and-play tackle.
N– Mike McGlinchey, T Notre Dame: Cincy doesn’t pick an Andy Dalton replacement with a run of quarterbacks early.
S– Vita Vea, DT Washington: The Redskins were dead last in the NFL in rushing defense. Time to seal up the middle of the front seven with the 330-pound Vea.
N–Roquan Smith, LB Georgia: Washington addresses a front-seven need, with their QB of the (near) future, Alex Smith, in town.
S– Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: Davenport’s ceiling is sky high and for a team that needs to do a better job getting after opposing quarterbacks, he’s a perfect choice for Green Bay.
N– *TRADE* Saints (from Packers) … Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville: If we’re looking for a mirror image of Drew Brees, you’d look at Mayfield. But Jackson can sharpen his passing game behind Brees and combine that with his leg skills to become a deadly threat.
S– *TRADE* 49ers (from Cardinals) … Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech: San Francisco trades back and still winds up with an excellent player at a position of need. They need rangy linebackers and Edmunds is just that.
N– Kolton Miller, T UCLA: Missing out on Jackson stings, but whoever the QB for the Cards is, he has to remain upright.
S– Courtland Sutton, WR SMU: Joe Flacco needs some serious help. Sutton to the rescue.
N– Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama: Baltimore is in desperate need of a playmaker outside.
S– Derwin James, S FSU: The Chargers are likely to lose Tre Boston in free agency, which makes finding his replacement imminent. Plus, at this point, James is a steal.
N–Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech: Damn, what a defense this would for years to come with the edge rushers already in place.
S– Josh Jackson, CB Iowa: Strange as it will be to see Richard Sherman in anything but a Seahawks jersey, his days are numbered in Seattle. Jackson could easily go higher than this, but he’s here at 18 and the Seahawks are thankful for that.
N– Derwin James, S FSU: It appears that the re-vamping of the Seahawks’ secondary is in full force as Richard Sherman is gone.
S– James Washington, WR Oklahoma State: A weapon for Dak Prescott that can compliment Dez Bryant on the other side of the offense.
N– Vita Vea, DT Washington: Dallas needs a force in the middle of the defense.
S– Da’Ron Payne, DT Alabama: With Matt Patricia taking the reigns adding a stud defensive player to address a need makes total sense. Running back could be in play here as well, but with a deep class of backs to choose from, the Lions hold off for now.
N– Harold Landry, DE Boston College: Ziggy Ansah, who received the franchise tag from Detroit, will need some pass rush help.
S– *TRADE* Giants (From Bills) … Connor Williams, T Texas: It appears the Giants are hitching their wagon to Eli Manning for a few more seasons. So with the first of two picks they received from the Bills, New York focuses on protecting him. Williams is a versatile player that fits better at tackle but could play guard, which makes him an appealing pick at this stage of the draft.
N– *TRADE* Raiders (From Bills) … Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise State: The Raiders get their needed linebacker despite trading away their top-10 pick to the Bills.
S– *TRADE* Giants (From Bills) … Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville: The Giants may have missed out on the early run of quarterbacks after trading back, but still set themselves up to look towards life without Eli Manning and wind up with Jackson at 22.
N– *TRADE* Raiders (From Bills) … Jaire Alexander, CB Louisville: Oakland doubles up on defensive talent with a ball-hawking DB.
S– Arden Key, DE LSU: It’s been a busy few days for the Rams, wheeling and dealing their own players and adding a few as well. The loss of Robert Quinn is most notable for Los Angeles and Key is a perfect fit for their scheme coming from the 3-4 at LSU.
N– Mike Hughes, CB Central Florida: The Rams need a complement to their strong front-seven.
S– Will Hernandez, G UTEP: Carolina has a hole to fill at guard and protecting Cam Newton should be their top priority.
N– James Washington, WR Oklahoma State: There’s a void in Carolina without Kelvin Benjamin in town anymore.
S– Harold Landry, DE Boston College: The Titans need to generate more pressure. Enter Harold Landry.
N– Will Hernandez, G UTEP: Hernandez followed up a good Senior Bowl with a strong combine.
S– Maurice Hurst, DT Michigan: Hurst had that scare at the combine where a heart condition forced him to withdraw from participating in any workouts. However, Hurst has made it known that he had the same issue while at Michigan and was cleared to play. If he’s ultimately cleared again, Atlanta, who is set to lose a few defensive linemen to free agency, could use his services.
N– DT Taven Bryan, Flordia: The Falcons’ defensive line didn’t look great against the Eagles in the postseason.
S– Mike Gesicki, TE Penn State: Talk of a potential reunion between the Saints and Jimmy Graham got me thinking about how fun Gesicki could be in the Saints offense. His measurements are on par with Graham’s when he entered the NFL in 2010. Graham was 6-foot-6, 260 pounds. Gesicki is listed at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds. There’s room for improvement when it comes to Gesicki’s run blocking but as a pass catcher, he’s a home run pick.
N– *TRADE* Packers (from Saints) … DE/ LB Arden Key, LSU: Key has early-pick potential, but due to off-field issues, the Pack can trade back and land him.
S– Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama: Pittsburgh could use some help at corner as well, but the middle of the defense is more pressing. Evans shows like Lawrence Timmons 2.0.
N– Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama: Dominant days of a strong Steelers’ defense with James Harrison are a thing of the past.
S– Dallas Goedert, TE SDSU: With Allen Robinson set to hit free agency a receiver could be in play here too even a trade up to get ahead of Pittsburgh and snag Lamar Jackson. But they did just sign Blake Bortles to an extension and he’s never had a good tight end to throw to.
N– Isiah Wynn, G Georgia: Continue rewarding Blake Bortles by giving him someone to block for him.
S– Billy Price, C Ohio State: Price had surgery earlier this week on his partially porn pectoral, suffered at the combine. He’ll be out four months but ready for training camp. It’s an unfortunate setback but I think he’s still worth a first-round pick. Price was most recently a center he played guard for 15 games during the Buckeyes championship run in 2014, which is exactly where the Vikings could use an upgrade on the O-line.
N– Connor Williams, T Texas: Reward Kirk Cousins by giving him someone to block for him 😉
S– Taven Bryan, DE Florida: Bryan shows J.J. Watt like tendencies except at defensive tackle instead of defensive end. His versatility would surely have a place in Bill Belichick’s defense.
N– Joshua Jackson, CB Iowa: With Malcolm Butler likely gone, a new corner to play opposite of Stephon Gilmore seems right.
S– Kolton Miller: Jason Peters is 36 and recovering from a torn ACL and MCL that ended his 2017 campaign early. It’s time to start thinking long-term about protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside.
N– Derrius Guice, RB LSU: Guice can slide into the void that LeGarrette Blount will leave behind.