Mock Draft 3.0: The Lock-It-In Edition
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The NFL's silly season is finally coming to a close and the only real things you've learned is that multiple sources have claimed your favorite team is "open for business," "willing to trade up or trade down" and "will never draft for need," only "the best player available."
At least that bit of subterfuge came straight from the horse's mouth -- Howie Roseman -- in Philadelphia.
Around the rest of the country, John Dorsey has been leaking every name possible at No. 1 overall, likely for two reasons: the fun of watching reporters chase their tails while testing the integrity of his front office for the future in the overly-secretive world that is the NFL.
The lynchpin of the process is No. 2 overall where Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants has convinced nearly everyone that he doesn't like any quarterbacks not named Sam Darnold in perhaps the deepest draft at the position since 1983 and plans to move forward with the aging, rapidly descending Eli Manning.
Thursday night can't get here soon enough:
1. Cleveland Browns - QB Sam Darnold, Southern California - Dorsey is having a lot of fun. Peter King started the Josh Allen national shift at No. 1 and circled back to Darnold this week. The most plugged-in local Browns reporter -- Mary Kay Cabot -- is sticking with Allen and now Adam Schefter has dropped Baker Mayfield is in the mix. It's OK to laugh now but when you sift through all the smoke, Darnold will be left standing.
2. New York Giants - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma - Nearly everyone is defaulting to Saquon Barkley at No. 2 but that fifth-year option at the running back position is untenable, giving away incredible leverage down the line if things go right. For that reason, the NYG are either taking a QB here, trading down or wowing everyone by reaching for edge rusher Bradley Chubb. My educated guess and is that oohs and aahs are from keeping Mayfield from their MetLife co-tenants, the Jets.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts) - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming - The Jets gave up quite a bit to move up three spots so please stop talking about anything other than a quarterback. They will default to the highest ceiling in Allen over the top floor in the process, UCLA's Josh Rosen. Allen and his Brett Favre-sized arm strength will bring his raw mechanics to the bright lights of the big city or North Jersey to be exact.
4. - Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans) - Edge Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State - The two most important positions in the modern NFL are quarterback and guys who chase the QB. Teaming Chubb with Myles Garrett could have the Browns defense terrorizing signal callers for years.
5. - Denver Broncos - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State - Someone is going to go up to No. 5 or No. 6 to go get Rosen but once Barkley falls, John Elway will stay put and make Case Keenum's life that much easier.
6. - Buffalo Bills (through Indianapolis Colts from New York Jets) - QB Josh Rosen, UCLA - The Bills have plenty in the war chest to move up and Indy will see no issues in moving down for extra assets because they need bodies to supplement what is one of the NFL's worst rosters. It should only be one first-round pick and multiple twos.
7. - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - The Bucs pass defense was awful last season so they press the need button here, taking the versatile Fitzpatrick over the best position player in the draft, Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson.
8. - Chicago Bears - OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame - The fit is so perfect here even Ryan Pace can't screw it up. The Bears need help on the interior of the OL and already hired Nelson's old position coach at ND, Harry Hiestand.
9. - San Francisco 49ers - LB Roquan Smith, Georgia - The hot-take crowd was impressed by John Lynch last year but now he has to pay for the sins of wasting a pick on Rueben Foster with the uber-talented Smith.
10. - Oakland Raiders - OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame - Two different personnel people have floated to 973espn.com that McGlinchey will be the surprise of this draft and is going top 10. Gil Brandt is also in the camp so I'll bite and the Raiders at 10 seems like the only potential fit.
11. - Miami Dolphins - LB Tramaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - Adam Gase doesn't believe in Ryan Tannehill so the Dolphins are a sneaky team to trade up for Rosen but if forced to stay put, this is just too early for Lamar Jackson. Miami also has a significant need at LB and will take the 19-year-old wunderkind with the biggest upside in the draft, Edmunds.
12. - Indianapolis Colts (through Buffalo Bills from Cincinnati Bengals) - CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State - Chris Ballard will be about bodies, bodies, bodies in Indy and getting the best CB in the draft while adding significant assets is tremendous value.
13. - Washington Redskins - DT Vita Vea, Washington - The issue with the Kirk Cousins-era Redskins was always the defense, particularly the pass rush so how does a two-down, space-eater fit into that? Easy, Vea eats ups multiple blockers allowing Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith an easier time of it on the edge.
14. - Green Bay Packers - CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida - Edge rusher is the obvious need here but it's pretty evident new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wants cornerbacks even though the old regime invested heavily there. Hughes is a gut feel over Iowa's Josh Jackson.
15. - Arizona Cardinals - S Derwin James, Florida State - The Cards are another team to watch when it comes to QB but Tyrann Mathieu is gone so getting a safety like James to team up with Budda Baker is too good to pass on.
16. - Baltimore Ravens - Edge Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio - Keep an eye on Lamar Jackson here because the Ravens need an heir apparent to Joe Flacco but Terrell Suggs is also speeding toward the finish line and once Davenport gets past the Packers Ozzie Newsome will have a tough time going in any other direction.
17. - Los Angeles Chargers - NT Da'Ron Payne, Alabama - Payne would be the perfect fit as a run-stuffer for the Chargers who need help on the interior. A lights-out run-stuffer inside Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram sounds really good on paper.
18. - Seattle Seahawks - CB Josh Jackson, Iowa - Few have talked more about trading out than Pate Carroll but Jackson is a long corner in the Seahawks' mold and they obviously need a replacement for Richard Sherman.
19. - Dallas Cowboys - WR Courtland Sutton, SMU - The Cowboys should have their pick of the litter when it comes to a down receiving class. Calvin Ridley is the best route-runner, which is normally a good predictor of at least some success at this level while D.J. Moore is the most versatile but if you know anything about Jerry Jones, the optics of keeping Sutton, a big-bodied wideout like Dez Bryant, in Dallas will be the default.
20. - Detroit Lions - RB Derrius Guice, LSU - How good would Matthew Stafford actually be with a running game? LeGarrette Blount is an upgrade but he's post-30 and there is a reason he keeps getting one-year deals after winning Super Bowls. Guice would be the long-term fix.
21. - Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills) - QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville - The Bengals believe they have seen the best of Andy Dalton and it's time to get more dynamic at the game's most important position.
22. - Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) - C James Daniels, Iowa - The Bills have lost both Eric Wood and Richie Incognito to retirement so they can take their pick of a tremendous interior-OL class after Nelson. Daniels should take over the pivot for the next decade.
23. - New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams) - OT Kolton Miller, UCLA - NFL scouts are enamored with Miller's size and athleticism and the Patriots will try to mold his raw tools into a replacement for Nate Solder.
24. - Carolina Panthers - WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama - Cam Newton needs help outside the numbers and the best WR in the class is a nice fit in the Queen City.
25. - Tennessee Titans - OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia - Add Wynn to tackles like Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin and Marcus Mariota might actually turn out to be a top-tier QB.
26. - Atlanta Falcons - DL Taven Bryan, Florida - Bryan is the classic prospect that projects better at the pro level than he played in college and the Falcons need to add depth on their defensive front.
27. - New Orleans Saints - Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina - The Saints thought seriously about luring Jimmy Graham back showing just how serious they are about getting Drew Brees a seam threat again.
28. - Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama - Ryan Shazier's spinal-cord injury has the Steelers going LB again.
29. - Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M - Too much attrition at WR after losing Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to pass on Kirk here.
30. - Minnesota Vikings - OL Frank Ragnow, Arkansas - The versatile, tough Minnesota native goes home giving Tony Sparano another versatile piece up front.
31. - New England Patriots - Edge Harold Landry, Boston College - The Pats need an influx of talent in the front seven especially on the edges so they keep Landry in the Boston area
32. - Philadelphia Eagles - LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State - Plans A, B and C for the Eagles are trading down and that remains the likelihood with someone jumping up to get a fifth-year option on Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph. That said the Eagles love Vander Esch and a slight cervical issue puts him back in play for Philly. It's not exactly Sophie's Choice but Howie Roseman will have a decision to make.
Other Potential First Rounders:
QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
OL Connor Williams, Texas
OG Will Hernandez, UTEP
CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
OC/G Billy Price, Ohio State
DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
WR DJ Moore, Maryland
S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen