Free agency frenzy is dying down which means draft talk is starting to pick up. Theories are taking shape after what teams have done the past seven days. As we get closer to the draft, we’ll be able to get a better picture of how the draft might play out.
In this first installment of Bucs Nation’s first round mock, writer Alex Salvarezza makes some bold predictions for how he sees the first round playing out.
1. Cleveland Browns - Sam Darnold QB (USC). The Browns have been searching for a QB for decades and they can’t mess this one up. The Browns upgraded their offense with the additions of Jarvis Landry and Micah Hyde and adding Darnold to the mix would give Cleveland fans hope for the future.
2. Buffalo Bills (Via NYG) - Josh Rosen QB (UCLA). The Bills original plan was to trade with the Colts for the third overall pick, but the Jets beat them to it. The Bills give up the house for this pick, but Rosen is their guy for the next 10 plus years.
3. New York Jets – Josh Allen QB (Wyoming). The Jets didn’t give up three second round picks to take Baker Mayfield and his antics both on and off the field. Allen has been compared to Big Ben in terms of arm strength and body build. The Jets haven’t had a franchise QB in a long time and they can finally get their guy for the future who will learn behind veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.
4. Arizona Cardinals (Via CLE) - Baker Mayfield QB (Oklahoma). The Cardinals are the only team in the NFC without a true franchise QB. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon aren’t the answer in the desert. The Cardinals are in a division with Jimmy Garoppolo, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff. They pull off a big trade and take a chance on Mayfield.
5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson OG (Notre Dame). John Elway is disappointed that Josh Allen is not on the board at five. He instead goes with Nelson who will be a pro-bowl guard, make an immediate impact on the Broncos offensive line and help protect Case Keenum.
6. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley RB (Penn State). The Colts missed out on every offensive lineman they went after in free agency, so they are hoping Nelson gets to them at six. He not there, so they take Barkley who would help take some pressure off of Andrew Luck and would give the Colts a nice group of offensive weapons.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bradley Chubb DE (NC State). Even with the additions along the defensive line, Tampa Bay is thrilled to see Chubb fall to seven. They get the best pass rusher in the draft, and it would allow new defensive line coach Breston Buckner to develop him, which he has succeeded with in the past. With the additions of Chubb, suddenly Tampa Bay has a very solid defensive line.
8. Chicago Bears – Minkah Fitzpatrick DB (Alabama). The bears are thrilled to see Fitzpatrick available for them with the eighth pick. After resigning Kyle Fuller in free agency and giving Mitchell Trubisky new weapons, the Bears add to their secondary with the Alabama standout.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward DB (Ohio State). The 49ers signed Richard Sherman to a three-year deal, but no one knows how he will come back from a torn Achilles. Ward is the best pure cover corner in the draft and will be a nice compliment to Sherman.
10. Oakland Raiders – Tremaine Edmunds LB (Georgia). New Head Coach Jon Gruden gets a 19-year old player who could have the highest ceiling in the draft. The Raiders back seven is one of the worst in the NFL and Edmunds can play any linebacker spot, and also rushed the passer on occasion in college.
11. Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea DT (Washington). After releasing Ndamukong Suh the Dolphins suddenly have a need at defensive tackle and Vea would step in on day one and fill the void Suh has left on the defensive line. Vea was dominant in college, especially against the run, but he can also collapse the pocket.
12. New York Giants – Connor Williams OT (Texas). The Giants signed Nate Soldier in free agency, but that doesn’t fix every problem they had on the offensive line last season. Adding Williams to the mix would allow him to start his career at Right Tackle, and he would not have to protect Eli Manning’s blind side.
13. Washington Redskins – Derwin James DB (Florida State). Derwin James is a Top 10 player in this draft, but because of the run on QB’s and other teams specific needs he is available at thirteen and the Redskins pull the trigger.
14 Green Bay Packers- Harold Landry EDGE (Boston College). The Packers need a pass rush as bad as anyone in the NFL. Landry is the best 3-4 edge rusher in the draft and would be a perfect fit in Green Bay.
15. Cleveland Browns (Via ARI) – Mike McGlinchey OT (Boston College). After trading out of the fourth spot and picking up many draft picks, the Cleveland Browns pick their Joe Thomas replacement. McGlinchey can play either side of the offensive line, but the Browns hope he can become half of what Joe Thomas was.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton WR (SMU). The Ravens have tried to fix their receiving core the last few years and every offseason they fail to do so. They did add Michael Crabtree, but he isn’t a long term option. The Ravens give Joe Flacco another weapon.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Roquan Smith LB (Georgia). The Chargers are one of the more complete teams in the entire NFL, but have a need at middle linebacker. Adding Smith to their defense would elevate the team even higher.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Jaire Alexander CB (Louisville). The “Legion of Boom” has come to an end and the Seahawks have a desperate need at cornerback. Young talent needs to be added to that secondary and they start by selecting Alexander.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Ridley WR (Alabama). With this likely being Dez Bryant’s last season with the team and Jason Witten becoming another year older, the Cowboys get Dak Prescott a young receiver to work with for years to come.
20. Detroit Lions – Maurice Hurst DT (Michigan). New head coach Matt Patricia continues to build the defense in Detroit. I could see them adding a running back with their first pick, but because of Patricia, the Lions select Hurst.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniel OL (Iowa). The Bengals recently traded for left tackle Cory Glenn, but still have needs along their offensive line. Daniel behind Quenton Nelson is arguably the second best interior lineman in this draft.
22. New York Giants (Via BUF) – Mike Hughes CB (Central Florida). The Giants add Hughes to a secondary that already consists of Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins. Hughes has very good ball skills and will be a nice #2 Corner for the Giants.
23. LA Rams – Rashaan Evans LB (Alabama). A few weeks ago the Rams were projected to select a cornerback, but with the additions of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib that changes their strategy. Evans fills the need left by the departure of Alec Ogletree.
24. Carolina Panthers – Equanimeous St. Brown WR (Notre Dame). The Panthers need to give Cam Newton more weapons on offense and select St. Brown with their first round pick. At 6 foot 5 inches, he fills the void left by Kelvin Benjamin.
25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch LB (Boise State). The Titans were very active in free agency, but did lose their starting middle linebacker Avery Williamson. Vander Esch fills the need and adds another talented piece to the Titans defense.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne DT (Alabama). Dontari Poe went to the Carolina Panthers in free agency which leaves a need on the defensive line for the Falcons. Alabama defensive linemen have been very productive in the NFL and Payne is a nice fit for this Falcons team.
27. New Orleans Saints – Lamar Jackson QB (Louisville). The clock is ticking on Drew Brees and Sean Payton knows that. Payton drafts his eventual replacement and there aren’t many Quarterbacks better to learn from then Drew Brees. Jackson is raw, but has great upside.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Malik Jefferson LB (Texas). The absence of Ryan Shazier was detrimental to the Steelers last season. It has already been announced that he won’t play in 2018 and there is no guarantee he ever returns to his form before the injury. Jefferson gives the Steelers a nice young linebacker.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J. Chark WR (LSU). The Jaguars lost both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency so they spend their first round pick on Chark, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn OL (Georgia). The Vikings might have the best roster top to bottom in the entire NFL. With the addition of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings bolster their offensive line even more to help in both the pass and run game.
31. New England Patriots - Arden Key EDGE (LSU). This might surprise some people, but Arden Key is a first round talent with off the field issues. Bill Belichick takes a chance with Key who will help the anemic pass rush of the Patriots.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Darrius Guice RB (LSU). Guice will add another dimension to the Eagles offense and fill the void left by the departure of LeGarrette Blount. Guice is the second best running back in this draft and the rich become richer.