Mock Draft 2.0: The Free Agent Frenzy Edition
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Today's snapshot of the 2018 NFL Draft is a lot clearer than it was before the start of free agency because teams around the league have at least shown a few of their cards when it comes to building their rosters for September.
With that in mind, it's time to shuffle the board in response to all the moves since the start of the new league year and offer up our latest mock draft:
1. Cleveland Browns - QB Sam Darnold, Southern California - Nothing has changed with the Browns at the top. They still need their long-term answer at the game's most important position and John Dorsey takes over understanding the prior regime passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in back-to-back years.
The thought that Cleveland would like all four projected top-10 picks at the position and therefore take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley before getting the signal caller at No. 4 is folly and a fundamental misunderstanding of how you evaluate the QB position. Only Dorsey is guaranteed to get the QB he wants and he will do exactly that.
2. New York Giants - QB Josh Rosen, UCLA - The Jason Pierre-Paul trade has some jumping to the Bradley Chubb conclusion with the Giants but the reason New York shipped JPP back down to Tampa was because it is moving to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher.
Like Piere-Paul, Chubb would be wasted as a five-technique and while he could certainly rush as a stand-up player you would prefer at least a little more versatility as far as coverage goes.
Furthermore, even those who still believe Eli Manning can still play at a consistently high level (which let's be honest has far more to do with his surname and jewelry box than the film) need to ask themselves how long that is that going to be the case at 37 years old?
Howie Roseman rules apply here -- the Giants don't want and don't plan on picking in the top 10 very often so they have to seize that moment and Dave Gettleman will get Pat Shurmur a QB to groom, choosing the most advanced of this year's class, UCLA's Rosen.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts) - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming - The Jets traded three second-round picks to move up three spots. If anyone believes you give up that kind of draft capital for a running back or defensive end, you don't understand how this league works. Josh 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) - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State - Barkley isn't nearly as can't miss as some insist but physically he's a freak, testing stronger than Joe Thomas at the combine, faster than Devin Hester, quicker than DeSean Jackson and more explosive than Julio Jones. He's also the second-best overall prospect in the draft behind Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson.
5. - Denver Broncos - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma - John Elway walked away early from the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes because he knew he wasn't going to win and despite his short-term commitment to Case Keenum, the Hall of Famer will take another swing at the game's most important position, selecting the fiery leader of the Sooners, a player who lacks prototypical size and has a personality that scares at least some.
6. - Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) - Edge Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State - Brilliant work by new Colts GM Chris Ballard here. He drops three spots, gets the player he wanted at No. 3 anyway and picks up three second-round picks on top of it.
7. - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame - It may not be the Bucs biggest need but Tampa re-signed Brent Grimes at cornerback and bolstered the pass rush with JPP and Vinny Curry so getting the best player in this draft to help keep Jameis Winston clean is hardly the worst thing in the world.
8. - Chicago Bears - CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State - The Bears really need to keep helping Mitchell Trubisky by putting skill players around him but this class is shaky there, at least at the top so Chicago takes the top corner.
Yes, the Bears re-signed both Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara but this is the 2018 NFL where 11 personnel is all the rage and the QBs among Chicago's NFC North rivals are Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins. In other words, that part of the depth chart needs to be well-stocked.
9. - San Francisco 49ers - DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - Fitzpatrick projects to be a versatile Malcolm Jenkins-type player, who can line up on the back end, cover and act as a rover or glorified LB. The value for a 49ers team morphing to a 4-3 is too great to pass here.
10. - Oakland Raiders - LB Tramaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - Jon Gruden is completely remaking this team in his image and the Raiders still need a ton on defense to supplement Khalil Mack. Edmunds is a kind-sized, 19-year-old specimen with one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
11. - Miami Dolphins - S Derwin James, Florida State - The back end wasn't exactly a strength for the Dolphins last season so keeping James in-state makes a lot of sense here.
12. - Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals) - LB Roquan Smith, Georgia - The Bills obviously want to move up again and get into the QB business. Ultimately that likely happens but if forced into a holding pattern, this would be a Christian Ponder-like reach at Lamar Jackson this high. Smith, the 2017 Butkus Award, isn't the biggest guy in the world but he's a thumper with the speed to cover, in other words, a modern LB, which is another position of serious need in Buffalo.
13. - Washington Redskins - DT Vita Vea, Washington - The issue with the Kirk Cousins-era Redskins was always the defense, particularly the pass rush so where does a two-down, space-eater fit into that? Easy, Vea eats ups multiple blockers allowing Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith a far easier time of it on the edge.
14. - Green Bay Packers - Edge Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio - Time to replace the aging, one-speed Clay Matthews. Davenport is raw but the best speed rusher in this draft after Chubb.
15. - Arizona Cardinals - NT Da'Ron Payne, Alabama - The Cards also need a QB but this is still too early for Jackson so they grab the big DT to make Chandler Jones even more effective.
16. - Baltimore Ravens - WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama - The Ravens are going to re-imagine their WR corps and Ridley is clearly the best of a so-so class at the position.
17. - Los Angeles Chargers - DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan - Payne would be the perfect fit as a run-stuffer for the Chargers who need help on the interior. Hurst, who has been cleared after a heart condition was found at the combine, is more of a three-technique but adding talent inside Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram isn't exactly a bad idea.
18. - Seattle Seahawks - DL Taven Bryan, Florida - It's time to start the rebuild in Seattle upfront after moving on from both Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson. Bryan could develop into the type of game-wrecker that defined a generation of Seahawks football and stop-gaps like Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephan won't stop Seattle from taking the leap.
19. - Dallas Cowboys - OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame - It worked with Zack Martin so why not take another refined Notre Dame O-lineman who will be plug-and-play at right tackle from Day 1. That enables the Cowboys to move La'el Collins back inside and voila they have one of the better O-lines in football again.
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 a long-term fix.
21. - Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills) - OL Isiah Wynn, Georgia - The Bengals brought in Cordy Glenn but still need plenty of help on the offensive line and Wynn could play right tackle or move inside in the NFL, a nice versatility piece for a team trying to put the pieces together up front.
22. - Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) - OC/G Billy Price, Ohio State - Price suffered a partially torn pec while benching at the combine but he will be ready by training camp as another plug-and-play O-lineman for a Bills team that lost OC Eric Wood to retirement.
23. - Los Angeles Rams - Edge Harold Landry, Boston College - Wade Phillips still needs an edge rusher with the Rams and Landry should fit in nicely.
24. - Carolina Panthers - OT Kolton Miller, UCLA - Cam Newton is obviously big, strong and mobile but you are tempting fate with Matt Kalil at left tackle and Miller opened some eyes at the combine as the most athletic tackle available. NFL.com's original scouting report called Miller essentially an average athlete and then he showed up and ran a 4.95 40-yard dash at 6-foot-9 and 310 pounds with a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump, a combine record for offensive linemen. The film says he doesn't belong in the first round but someone will make the leap.
25. - Tennessee Titans - OG Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso - Add a road-grader like Hernandez to tackles like Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin and Marcus Mariota might actually turn out to be the top-tier QB so many thought.
26. - Atlanta Falcons - CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville - Alexander "slots" in very nicely as the third CB in a division filled with high-octane passing attacks.
27. - New Orleans Saints - S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama - The Minnesota Miracle exemplifies that the Saints need a sound tackler on the back end and Kenny Vaccaro is on his way out so this one makes sense.
28. - Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State - Ryan Shazier's spinal-cord injury has the Steelers going LB in back-to-back years after bringing T.J. Watt on last April. The Eagles have significant interest in Vander Esch, an NFL source told 973espn.com.
29. - Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville - Getting Jackson without the pressure of having to play right away makes sense as does the fifth-year option, in case he does hit.
30. - Minnesota Vikings - OT Connor Williams, Texas - The Vikings need an offensive lineman after Joe Berger's retirement and they have the ability to take the best one on the board thanks to the versatility of Mike Remmers, who can slide inside right guard or stay at RT.
31. - New England Patriots - CB Josh Jackson, Iowa - With Malcolm Butler setting up shop in Tennessee, Jackson has the opportunity to be an immediate contributor.
32. - Philadelphia Eagles - S Justin Reid, Stanford - The Eagles probably trade out to regain some draft capital. If forced to stick, however, Reid would fit in nicely in the Corey Graham role as the third safety while also interning to take over full-time on the back end.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen