- Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The most logical thing for the Browns to do here would be to draft Saquon Barkley and take the best available quarterback with the fourth pick. However, given that the Jets are poised to draft a QB at #3, going with a signal caller may be the right way to go after all.
Arguments could be made for any of the QBs this year, but Darnold may fit the Browns best. He can sit for a year behind Tyrod Taylor before taking over full-time next season.
- New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Giants seem content to stick with Eli Manning for another season, so they’ll be taking the best non-QB on the board. Barkley’s a perfect choice. He’s a dynamic weapon who could finally solve the team’s problems in the running game. Trading down is still a realistic possibility as well.
- New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Moving up from the sixth pick has telegraphed this pick as a QB for the Jets. Mayfield is the best of the passers in this draft statistically. He’ll join a crowded group at QB in East Rutherford.
- Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Trading back here is in play for the Browns. They’ve made so many moves this offseason that they don’t have any obvious weak points outside of left tackle (and there’s no prospect worth taking this high).
The interior defensive line could use some more talent, however, and Hurst is one of the best in this year’s class. He had a health scare at the Combine relating to his heart, but that’s been cleared up. The Browns could certainly take a chance on someone like him.
- Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Going with a guard this high is a bit unprecedented, but Nelson’s that good. He’s by far the best offensive lineman in this year’s class and very well could be argued as the most talented prospect in general. The Broncos have a hole at right guard that he’d step right into it.
A QB is still in play here though. Josh Rosen could be the choice if John Elway likes him enough.
- Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
What a shrewd decision by the Colts to move down a few spots and get extra draft picks. It’s very likely that they would’ve taken Chubb at #3 if they had stayed, so getting him here would be a steal. He’ll help shore up the edge rusher spot in their new 4-3 defense.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
The secondary is in dire straits for the Bucs. They definitely need new blood at both corner and safety. The former position is diverse enough in this draft, so addressing the latter makes sense here. James is the top safety this year, and he’d be an immediate upgrade.
- Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Bears have done a good job of fixing the weaknesses on their roster in free agency thus far. The one spot they haven’t touched is inside linebacker. Nick Kwiatkowski is currently penciled in as the starter next to Danny Trevathan. While he did well in limited snaps last season, he might be better as a backup.
Smith is fighting with Tremaine Edmunds to be the first LB taken in the draft. He fits what the Bears look for in their defense.
- San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia
Reuben Foster’s legal situation could cause the Niners to go linebacker here. Edmunds is a nice fallback option. He has the potential to be even better than Foster was in the latter’s rookie season.
- Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Isn’t that the way? The Raiders desperately need a linebacker, but the two top prospects are already off the board. Instead, they can pivot to the secondary, which lost three of its regular players from last season in David Amerson, T.J. Carrie and Sean Smith.
Having drafted an Ohio State corner last year in Gareon Conley, why not pair him with another? Ward jumped to the top of many analysts’ boards after the Combine. He, Conley and Rashaan Melvin could be a dangerous force in coverage.
- Miami Dolphins: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
The offensive line is a mess for the Dolphins, but the only blocker worth taking here is tackle Mike McGlinchey. Are they willing to move Laremy Tunsil back to guard? Probably not.
The team also needs help in the secondary, so Jackson would work here too. His Combine wasn’t the greatest, but he was tremendous in coverage last season with the Hawkeyes.
- Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Bills gave up left tackle Cordy Glenn to move up, and they may not be finished, considering that they have another first-round pick in their back pocket. QB is their target, and Allen seems like the type of prospect they’d be enamored with, even though there are better options available.
- Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
There’s no obvious position of need for Washington, but nose tackle could be upgraded. Vea has the potential to be a monster at that spot for them.
- Green Bay Packers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
Let’s see: the Packers traded away their best cover player in Damarious Randall and saw longtime safety Morgan Burnett leave in free agency. Corner and safety could sure use upgrades. Why not go with a guy who could line up at both spots? Fitzpatrick is an interesting player who will be used in a multitude of ways in coverage.
- Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
With no other options, the Cardinals will be forced to sit and wait for a QB to drop to them. Rosen may end up being the best of this year’s bunch anyway. His maturity is supposedly a big question mark, so sitting behind Sam Bradford for a year is a possibility.
- Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Ravens obviously need a weapon for Joe Flacco to throw to. The problem is there’s no clear cut #1 receiver in this draft. Having lost a deep threat in Mike Wallace, maybe they’ll go with another who played close by in college. Moore had insane numbers at the Combine. He’s a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
An offensive lineman is an option for the Chargers, but they could also solidify their defense by taking an interior pass rusher. Payne is very balanced and could fit their scheme well.
- Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame
Seattle would be over the moon if McGlinchey fell to them. It would allow them to move Germain Ifedi to one of the guard spots, which could help alleviate their problems on the offensive line. McGlinchey can also serve as the heir apparent to Duane Brown at left tackle.
- Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
- Detroit Lions: Isaiah Wynn, G/C, Georgia
Travis Swanson left in free agency, so the Lions will have a new starting center new season. Their current plan is to move left guard Graham Glasgow there, which could work. Just in case, they should take a prospect that could line up at either spot. Wynn fits the bill.
- Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills): Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Russell Bodine is gone, leaving a big hole at center for the Bengals. Ragnow is the best pure center prospect in the draft, and he’d probably be an upgrade over Bodine anyway. The Bengals could address tackle and guard here as well.
- Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Richie Incognito and Eric Wood have both retired, so the Bills may address the interior offensive line here. However, they’ll most likely have a rookie QB from their earlier first-round pick, so pairing him with a receiver is in the cards as well. Sutton is a physical wideout who may do well across from Kelvin Benjamin.
- New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams): Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The current trend is to give the Patriots a QB with one of their first-rounders. It could definitely happen, since they have no long-term replacement for Tom Brady. But taking one this high isn’t Bill Belichick’s style. The team has plenty of other holes to fill, including at linebacker. Vander Esch is the type of LB the Patriots love to add.
- Carolina Panthers: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
The Panthers have to address the passing game in the first round, either on offense or defense. A wideout makes sense here, but there are several talented corners on the board as well. Jackson was impressive at the Combine and has major upside in coverage.
- Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
Losing Avery Williamson will hurt the Titans at inside linebacker, but they also have to start at edge rusher. Landry could go a lot higher than this, so taking him would be a steal.
- Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons are very thin on the interior defensive line. Bryan has a lot of tools as a pass rusher that could help them right away.
- New Orleans Saints: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Swerve! The Saints don’t really have any major weaknesses, so taking a chance on someone like Jackson could end up happening. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, and they have no viable developmental prospect behind him.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA
Finding someone to take over for Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker is an option, but the Steelers pass rush needs a lot of help as well. Davenport is a boom-or-bust prospect with plenty of favorable physical traits.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
- Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
Joe Berger has retired, which leaves a hole at right guard for the Vikings. Hernandez can step in right away.
- New England Patriots: Connor Williams, T, Texas
Nate Solder departed in free agency, leaving a big hole at left tackle. Williams played very well two years ago for the Longhorns before dealing with injuries this past season. Maybe he and Tony Garcia can fight for the job.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Kolton Miller, T, UCLA
The Eagles are stacked from top to bottom, so they can look ahead to the future. They could use an eventual replacement for Jason Peters at left tackle. Hal Vaitai did well in relief last year, but he’s better as a backup. Miller is a physical beast that could use some time on the bench to sit and learn.