The 2018 NFL Draft is coming up fast, but the wait leading up to it seems to drag on for forever. With so many rumors swirling around it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. This my best guess at what we will see unfold in the first two rounds. I project trades and gives explanations for the first round picks.
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold, USC: There are plenty of rumors circulating about the Browns liking Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold at this pick, but they end up taking the guy they’ve liked the most throughout the draft process. The Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor to be a bridge quarterback. They signed Drew Stanton to mentor the #1 pick and help his transition into the NFL. Darnold is incredibly young and would benefit from sitting and learning for a year behind Taylor and Stanton. Darnold needs work, but he could become a top-level franchise quarterback if he can improve his decision making and learn to be a more efficient player. The Browns decide that Darnold is the safest option for them considering they can afford to sit him for a year of development while they build up the rest of the roster.
2. New York Giants: EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State: The Giants have a big decision to make with this pick. Do you draft a player that you think has the chance to take over for Eli Manning as the future of your team or do you draft a player you think can be a defensive cornerstone? Dave Gettleman is no stranger to drafting a defensive lineman in the 1st round, and Pat Shurmur just helped lead the Vikings to a deep playoff run with Case Keenum at quarterback. The Giants roster needs some work. They aren’t a quarterback away like some other teams. Adding Bradley Chubb is their first move towards building a roster that is ready to make a run at a championship. After all, this is a copycat league. The Eagles just won the Super Bowl with a great pass rush and Nick Foles at quarterback. The Giants view Chubb as their chance to apply that mold in New York. Chubb will play across from Olivier Vernon and will be expected to be the main piece of the defense. Chubb is an explosive player that showed some good bend in college. Maximizing his athletic ability will be the key to turning him into a star defensive end. A trade down would be ideal for the Giants, but no opportunity that keeps them near the top of the draft presents itself.
3. New York Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: The Jets moved up to pick #3 knowing that one of the top quarterbacks they would be comfortable with as the future of their franchise would be available. Darnold is their top choice, but Baker Mayfield is a fantastic consolation prize. They consider swinging for the fences on Josh Allen, but Baker Mayfield is their top man here and is a pretty easy selection to make. The Jets need to turn things around quickly if they want to avoid more front office/coaching turnover. This team needs an infusion of talent and personality. Baker Mayfield provides both in loads. He gives them the best chance at winning promptly There should be some good competition this year between Baker Mayfield, Josh McCown, and Teddy Bridgewater but Mayfield is undoubtedly the future of this franchise.
Trade: The Cleveland Browns trade 1.4 and a 2019 4th to The Buffalo Bills for 1.12, 1.22, and a 2019 2nd
4. Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming: The Browns are willing to trade down with Chubb off the board and will not pass up a chance to add more valuable picks. The Bills have had their eyes on Josh Allen, and they jump at the opportunity to move up and draft their guy. The Bills end up paying a high price for a quarterback after being non-committal to Tyrod Taylor. They also had the chance to draft a quarterback from last year’s crop of prospects. By waiting so long to make up their mind at quarterback, they are forced to go with one from this draft. In his time as defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers, Sean McDermott got an up-close look at a quarterback with the size and arm talent similar to Josh Allen. Cam Newton has been a success for the Panthers, and the Bills make this selection with intent to emulate that success. The Bills signed AJ McCarron to a one year deal so they can sit Josh Allen until he’s ready to play (or until the fan base puts pressure on the team to start him).
5. Denver Broncos: OL Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame: The Broncos try to trade down but unfortunately no one, other than the Bills, is willing to pay the steep price to move up this high. The Broncos instead have to “settle” for the best player in this draft in Quenton Nelson. The Broncos have seen some improvements along the offensive line over the past year. The addition of Quenton Nelson will take this group to the next level though. Nelson is about as good as it gets for an offensive line prospect and should make an immediate contribution for the Broncos. Nelson is such a disrespectful blocker that he will set the tone for that whole offense on a game-to-game basis. The Broncos pass on a quarterback because they do not view any of the remaining options as being worth the pick or as a significant upgrade over Case Keenum. John Elway is confident that this team can win with a great defense, an effective running game, and a passing game spearheaded by Case Keenum.
6. Indianapolis Colts: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State: The Colts are somehow still in a rebuild despite being gifted Andrew Luck six years ago. Ryan Grigson punted away the early part of Luck’s career and, with Andrew Luck still behind in his recovery, their rebuild might be a little harder now than it was six years ago. Even if Luck is good to go, they need more firepower on offense. TY Hilton is great, but he can’t do everything by himself. Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Ryan Grant, and Marlon Mack are good ancillary pieces, but none of them can carry an offense. Jacoby Brissett is a nice player to have in the absence of Andrew Luck, but he will get killed if the Colts have zero threat of a running game again. They certainly need upgrades on the offensive line as well both for the sake of the running game and passing game. Offensive line be damned, Saquon Barkley has the potential to be a game changer as a running back. He will take some of the pressure off of whoever ends up playing at QB for the Colts in 2018. He can immediately contribute in the passing game and will be another big play threat that the Colts have sorely missed over the past few years.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade 1.7 to The San Francisco 49ers for 1.9 and 3.74
7. San Francisco 49ers: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia: The 49ers are in need of a new linebacker to lead their defense, so they jump in front of the Bears to secure the best one in the draft. Roquan Smith is an exceptional athlete for the position and has some pretty good skills to go along with his athletic talents. His speed and relentless play will allow him to thrive in the 49ers defensive scheme. The 49ers have had some pretty bad luck with their linebackers. Two retired early, two suffered some pretty bad injuries, and another has likely just shown himself the door after one year. Roquan Smith should be one of the finishing pieces towards making this defense elite. He can run step-for-step with running backs, he is strong enough to hold his own against offensive lineman, and he does it for all four quarters. Smith will become a leader on that defense for years, which is what they hoped they had in Reuben Foster. If Reuben Foster is somehow allowed to remain with the team, the 49ers will have an incredibly talented group of linebackers.
8. Chicago Bears: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech: This is pretty much a worst-case scenario for the Bears. All of their top targets are gone, and they aren’t a great trade target with nobody looking to jump the Buccaneers and Raiders. The Bears decide to take a risk on a young athletic linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds. The Bears could use another off-ball linebacker and some depth for their pass rush. Edmunds might be able to kill two birds with one stone. Edmunds is absurdly young for a prospect and has great measurables for the position. Not many linebackers come along with his blend of size, speed, and explosiveness. The Bears can use him off the ball to pair with Danny Trevathan, they can use him on blitzes up the middle (like Anthony Barr with the Vikings), or they could even try rushing him off the edge opposite of Leonard Floyd. While Edmunds is a risky pick, there could be a huge payoff if the Bears find a way to use him correctly.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama: The Buccaneers were willing to trade down because they knew one of their top targets would still be here at #9 and also because they could use another pick to help fill holes on the roster. They end up getting their top man in Minkah Fitzpatrick. They would’ve taken Fitzpatrick at #7 had they stayed put, so they should feel pretty good about their calculated risk. The Buccaneers will play Fitzpatrick primarily at a corner with packages built in to let him roam around in the slot. Cornerbacks are valued much more than safeties in the NFL these days, so the position switch makes sense from a value standpoint. Fitzpatrick is hyped by Alabama coaches as a great player on the field and a generational player off the field. He also possesses good athletic ability and has fantastic size and length if he is kept at corner. The Buccaneers will expect him to live up to this hype after investing a top ten selection in him.
Trade: The Oakland Raiders trade 1.10 and 5.173 to The New England Patriots for 1.23, 2.43, 3.95, and a 2019 3rd
10. New England Patriots: QB Josh Rosen , UCLA: Perhaps the first big surprise of this draft, the Patriots move way up to grab their quarterback of the future. The Raiders are glad to move back for multiple top 100 picks to help jump-start the Jon Gruden era of Raider football. Bill Belichick hasn’t been shy about wanting to have a plan in place for the Patriots once he decides to retire. Belichick was forced to trade away his initial backup plan when they shipped off Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. Now, Belichick has another backup plan in Josh Rosen. Rosen’s personality is not too large for the Patriots locker room, and he will stand to benefit greatly from the tutelage of Bill Belichick and the first-hand view of how a hall of fame quarterback operates. Rosen has been receiving hype since high school, and he has proven himself every step of the way. If given the opportunity, it shouldn’t surprise if he proves himself at the NFL level. Tom Brady will likely retire relatively soon, and Bill Belichick will likely follow right behind him. By then, Rosen will have been groomed to be the leader of the Patriots.
11. Miami Dolphins: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State: The Dolphins were hoping to land one of the top quarterbacks but were jumped by the Patriots for the opportunity. They consider Lamar Jackson, but ultimately don’t view him as an upgrade over a healthy Ryan Tannehill. They also hoped to land Roquan Smith, but will instead be glad to settle for Leighton Vander Esch. Leighton Vander Esch filled up the stat sheets at Boise State and brings rare size for an off-ball linebacker. He used his speed to make plays all across the field, he used his length and size to handle blocks, and he even had the quickness to work around blocks as well. The Dolphins already have some talented linebackers in Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan, but they can’t pass up the opportunity to add an athlete like LVE to their defense. If McMillan returns well from injury and if they hit on this pick, the Dolphins have a chance to have a fantastic group at linebacker for years to come.
12. Cleveland Browns: DB Denzel Ward, Ohio State: This is a situation where need meets value for the Browns. They considered taking Denzel Ward at #4, and yet they find themselves drafting him here at #12. The Browns defense was great against the run in 2017 but struggled to stop the opponents passing game. While they still need to address their pass rush, addressing the secondary is not a bad idea at this spot. Ward is incredibly fast and can run with just about anyone. He only started one year at Ohio State because he was behind 1st round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, yet he managed to show a lot in just a small amount of time. Despite being a bit on the small side, Ward can be a pretty aggressive player. That mindset at the cornerback position will serve him well in a Gregg Williams defense when he has to cover on an island or when he’s asked to get his nose dirty in the run game or on the occasional cornerback blitz. With the additions of EJ Gaines, Travis Carrie, and now Denzel Ward, the Browns secondary will go from one of the worst to one of the most promising in the NFL.
13. Washington Redskins: DB Derwin James, Florida State: This is a tough spot for the Redskins. Do you take a high level running back in Derrius Guice? Do you finally grab a nose tackle to complete your defensive line with Vita Vea? Do you grab an elite athlete at the safety position in Derwin James? Do you trade down and hope other teams make your decision easier for you? The Redskins decide to take the guy that would easily be a top ten pick in most draft classes. A quarterback heavy and linebacker heavy top portion of the draft causes Derwin James to fall right down into Washington’s lap. While they don’t need a safety, it certainly doesn’t hurt to add one like Derwin James. James can play any role you want at safety, he can play some linebacker, and he can roam around in the slot and hold his own against some wide receivers, and he is a great matchup against running backs and tight ends. They can address their needs later. For now, they add an elite chess piece to their defense who should lead their secondary for over a decade.
14. Green Bay Packers: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College: The Packers make the obvious pick with Harold Landry. They desperately need better corners, but they also need to help out their corners with a better pass rush. What could be better than adding a pass rusher like Landry at #14? Sure, they could consider drafting a cornerback to improve the back end of their defense, but someone like Josh Jackson or Mike Hughes won’t improve their overall defense the way Harold Landry will. He is arguably the best pass rusher in this class on day 1. He will rotate with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews until he secures a full-time position. The Packers will also likely work in packages that utilize all three at once. Landry comes with some concerns in the run game, but the Packers can make sure Landry learns from Clay Matthews on how to win in the run game. Landry doesn’t need to be a stud against the run; he needs to do his job when the opposing offense runs the ball and get after the passer the rest of the time.
15. Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville: The Cardinals take one of the more polarizing prospects in the draft here at #15. Steve Keim has put off drafting a franchise quarterback for far too long. First, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford to a short deal and now they draft Lamar Jackson. Bradford is a fine quarterback when healthy, but his inability to stay healthy has been a concern for years. Bradford simply is not a long-term option for the Cardinals. Lamar Jackson can be a special player in the NFL, and the Cardinals are lucky to get him at this point in the draft. Jackson has a great arm, he makes incredible throws, and he’s a ridiculously talented runner. Jackson will be a matchup nightmare and, with a player like David Johnson in the backfield alongside him, the Cardinals will have the opportunity to be the most creative offense in the NFL. Lamar Jackson will certainly need to improve parts of his game, but the risk is worth it for the Cardinals who need an exciting player to help make this franchise relevant again. Steve Keim will certainly get a call from Bruce Arians if Lamar starts to get within range of this pick and he would be smart to listen to his recommendation.
Trade: The Baltimore Ravens trade 1.16 and 4.118 to The Dallas Cowboys for 1.19, 3.81, and 6.208
16. Dallas Cowboys: DL Vita Vea, Washington: The Ravens trade down a few spots with a number of their top targets still on the board. The Cowboys jump up a few spots to secure a player that has the potential to change their defense. Vita Vea is a freakish athlete and plays with an absurd amount of power. The Cowboys have a handful of guys that can generate some interior pass rush, but they don’t have anyone playing inside that can be a force against the run. Vita Vea will open things up for the rest of their defensive line and will allow for them to use guys like David Irving and Tyrone Crawford more creatively. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is no stranger to developing defensive lineman, and he is no stranger to massive defensive tackles like Vita Vea. Many teams have concerns about Vea’s ability to get to the passer, but the Cowboys don’t worry quite so much knowing that Marinelli will teach him well. The Cowboys consider going wide receiver with their 1st round pick, but the value they get with Vita Vea is too much to pass up.
Trade: The Los Angeles Chargers trade 1.17 to The Carolina Panthers for 1.24, 3.88, and 5.161
17. Carolina Panthers: EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA: The Chargers move down after missing out on their top targets. The Panthers should probably be targeting a cornerback considering how little they have invested in the position, but they can’t pass at the opportunity to move up and get a potential premier pass rusher. Davenport was not going to fall all the way to #24, so they jumped at their first chance to grab him. Davenport is a fantastic athlete and is loaded with 18. potential. He needs to learn how to play lower through contact, and he will need to adjust to NFL level competition. Davenport dominated players who were physically inferior to him. He will need to play smart to win in the NFL. Davenport can be used in many different ways but will primarily be used as a pass rusher with his hand in the dirt. If the Panthers want to get creative, they can stand him up and attack with him in different ways. The Panthers don’t have many glaring needs so they can afford to take this risk.
Trade: The Seattle Seahawks trade 1.18 and 5.146 to The Jacksonville Jaguars for 1.29 and 2.61
18. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR D.J. Moore, Maryland: The Seahawks aren’t exactly desperate to trade down, but it would be challenging to properly address their needs without moving down to acquire more picks. The Jaguars lost their top receiver in free agency and need to surround Blake Bortles with weapons if they’re going to compete for Super Bowls. What better way to accomplish that than to trade up for the best receiver in the draft? They have some solid wide receivers currently on the roster, but they don’t have one that can be a real #1 wide receiver. DJ Moore will be tasked with replacing Allen Robinson in the Jaguars offense. Moore is a very explosive athlete, he can create yards after the catch, and he is a very skilled route runner. He isn’t a physically imposing receiver, but he doesn’t need to be. His ability to create separation and ability with the ball in his hands will serve him more than well enough at the next level. DJ Moore will make Blake Bortles life a little easier and will hopefully lighten the boxes that Leonard Fournette has to run into.
19. Baltimore Ravens: OL James Daniels, Iowa: The Ravens get their top target after moving down, so they are very excited to grab James Daniels here. The Ravens have had serious issues along the offensive line and lost one of their best players, Ryan Jensen, in free agency this year. They were recently successful at drafting a first-round offensive lineman in Ronnie Stanley and decide to tap into another offensive line pipeline to replace Ryan Jensen. James Daniels is a rare center prospect. He’s a few years younger than the majority of offensive line prospects, he’s got ideal size and length for the position, and he comes from an offensive system that will greatly prepare him for life in the NFL. Daniels will be one of the better athletes at the center position from day 1 and should be one of the best in the zone game from day 1. Daniels doesn’t even turn 21 until September so, naturally, he will be a little behind other offensive lineman drafted in this range. With that said, Daniels has the potential to be a fixture on that Baltimore offensive line along with Ronnie Stanley for the next decade or more.
Trade: The Detroit Lions trade 1.20 to The Indianapolis Colts for 2.36, 3.67, and 4.104
20. Indianapolis Colts: OL Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame: The Lions trade down to add a few extra picks to help address their needs while the Colts make a move up here to help fortify their offensive line. The Colts have a glaring hole at right tackle and McGlinchey can slide right into that spot. The Bengals, Browns, and even the Raiders are candidates to target an offensive lineman with the following picks, so the Colts are willing to pay the price to jump back up into the first round to get their guy. McGlinchey is outstanding in the run game and will be very helpful in opening up holes for Saquon Barkley. He was well coached at Notre Dame and will be ready to make an impact on day 1. The health of Andrew Luck is still up on the air. Even if he can’t recover in time for the regular season, the Colts will need to improve their pass protection for Jacoby Brissett. McGlinchey doesn’t have a perfect pass set, but he should certainly be an upgrade over what the Colts have on their roster at the moment.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia: This is the second time this offseason that the Bengals have added a former Georgia offensive lineman. This brings their total number of former Georgia offensive lineman to 3. They already had Clint Boling their roster, they acquired Cordy Glenn in a trade down with the Bills, and now they add Isaiah Wynn who just might end being the best of the bunch. Isaiah Wynn projects more to guard, and that is where he will play for the Bengals. The Bengals only have two sure things on their offensive line, so adding a player like Isaiah Wynn is a good start toward building a functional offensive line. Isaiah Wynn will slot in as the new left guard for the Bengals while Clint Boling makes the move back over to the right side of the line. Even with the addition of Wynn, the Bengals could still stand to add at least one more offensive lineman in this draft. Cordy Glenn and Isaiah Wynn make for a formidable duo on the left side of the line so now they need to figure out who will play center for them and if a Jake Fisher/Cedric Ogbuehi competition at right tackle is good enough to go into the regular season with adding another right tackle.
22. Cleveland Browns: DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan: While the Browns could target a left tackle at this spot they instead grab the best interior pass rusher in this draft class. There are a few options still left at tackle in this draft, and the Browns happen to have a few more picks where they can still try to land one. Maurice Hurst should go much higher than this, but concerns over the medical flag at the combine take him off of the board for teams picking at the top of the draft. The Browns defense was very good against the run last year but struggled to get a consistent pass rush. Garrett and Ogbah are good rushers on the edge, but they don’t have much on the interior. Hurst will be plugged right into the middle of the Cleveland defense and will be let loose to get after the quarterback. The addition of Hurst gives the Browns a pretty impressive defensive line that has the potential to be pretty dangerous as they continue to develop. Now the Browns need to focus on finding better depth to create a good rotation that keeps their top guys fresh late in games.
23. Oakland Raiders: DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama: The Raiders miss out on their top target but are more than glad to add Da’Ron Payne to their defense. While they would have preferred the pass rush ability of Maurice Hurst, they still get a player with a considerable amount of upside in Da’Ron Payne. The Raiders need some help on defense, and the addition of Da’Ron Payne will open things up for Khalil Mack and others in that front 7. Payne is already a monster against the run, but he is pretty raw as a pass rusher. Alabama doesn’t ask all of their defensive linemen to rush the passer. Instead, they ask the big bodied players like Da’Ron Payne to play rush lanes and prevent quarterback scrambles. Payne didn’t get much of a chance to prove his ability as a rusher, but his athleticism gives hope that it can be developed. He will only be 20 years old on draft day, which also gives hope that the Raiders will be able to develop his ability to get to the passer.
24. Los Angeles Chargers: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama: The Chargers had their eyes on Leighton Vander Esch, but he went far earlier than they had hoped. So, instead, the Chargers move down a few picks and get a different linebacker that still has the chance to be a difference maker in their defense. Evans was used in a variety of ways in the Alabama defense but he best projects to the weakside linebacker position for the Chargers. He has some experience as a rusher off of the edge, but his skills will be highlighted best if he plays off the ball. He has good size for an off-ball linebacker, but he would be too small to play on the line of scrimmage every down. The Chargers slowly faded the role of Jatavis Brown last year and lost Korey Toomer in free agency. The Chargers really shouldn’t be content with their current group of linebackers. Adding Rashaan Evans will help round out their defensive front with the only remaining need being a nose tackle for the future. Rashaan Evans, Denzel Perryman, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Corey Liuget, and Brandon Mebane make for an impressive defensive front that can operate out of many different schemes and alignments.
25. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Josh Sweat, Florida State: New Head Coach Mike Vrabel can’t pass up the chance to add Clowney-lite to his defense. The Titans could use a lot of help on defense, and an edge rusher tops the list. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are probably nearing the end of their time with the Titans so it would be smart to start replacing them now. Josh Sweat is a freak athlete and draws the Jadeveon Clowney comparison for good reason. Sweat’s role at Florida State was similar to Clowney’s role in Houston. Under Mike Vrabel, he will get the chance to play that role again sometimes. Sweat does take some projection because he wasn’t asked to rush the passer the way most top-shelf EDGE’s are, but that is a risk well worth taking. A player with his strength, power, length, and athleticism is a lot more likely to succeed, especially when a player like that enters the league at just 21 years old. The Titans have some work to do to make this team truly competitive and adding a talent like Josh Sweat is a good start to that process.
26. Atlanta Falcons: DB Jaire Alexander, Louisville: The Falcons don’t need a cornerback, but Jaire Alexander is too good to pass up. They could go with a defensive lineman, but they don’t see anyone that provides significantly better value than what they can get now. With the addition of Jaire Alexander, the Falcons will have one of the strongest secondaries in the NFL. Jaire Alexander can be successful in many different types of coverage and can cover any receiver. He’s a great athlete and can keep up with the fast and quick type of wide receivers. He also has solid size and plays with an aggressive attitude that allows him to win against big bodied receivers. Jaire Alexander was a leader at Louisville and will be a good addition to the Falcons locker room. His personality is also an asset on the field when he gets into the head of the receiver with all of his trash talk. He will start on the boundary opposite of Desmond Trufant and will force Robert Alford and Brian Poole to play in the slot. Nickel sets are the new base defense in today’s game so having an extra corner or two isn’t a bad thing.
Trade: The New Orleans Saints trade 1.27 and 4.127 to The Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2.38, 3.74, and a 2019 5th
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Derrius Guice, LSU: The Saints are in a good position where they don’t need much, so they make the trade down to add more picks. The Buccaneers make this move up to grab a player who has the talent to go much earlier. They can afford to make this move because the assets earned in their earlier trade offset some of the assets they gave to move up here. Running back is a serious need in Tampa Bay with no player leading the way at the position. Derrius Guice immediately becomes the top running back in Tampa and should finally be the fix for their inconsistent running game. Guice is an amazing player to watch with his combination of balance, athleticism, and running style. Defenders have a hard time getting him to the ground on the first contact because he’s able to bounce off of their tackles. Smaller defenders especially have a hard time against Derrius Guice because he will run right at them and he will run right through them. Guice is one of the angriest runners to come out of college in a long time. To top it off Guice is a very solid athlete. He has the speed to break off long runs from time to time and has the cutting ability to leave defenders grasping at air.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: DB Justin Reid, Stanford: The Steelers need a linebacker, but at this point in the draft there aren’t any that provide adequate value or fit what they need. Instead, the Steelers turn to a slightly lesser need that still needs to be addressed. The safeties for the Steelers have been subpar for a while now, and one way to turn that around is to invest premier assets there. So, the Steelers grab one of the top safeties in this draft with the hope that he not only starts day one but also that he becomes a significant contributor for them for the long run. Reid often played in the slot at Stanford, but he can play any safety role that he needs to. He can play in deep coverage, or he can roll up into the box and be an extra defender against the run. Reid is considered to be a “safe” prospect because his character is ideal for what teams want and also because he’s a knowledgeable person playing at a position that requires a lot of mental processing. Reid may be considered a reach, but the Steelers have shown before that they aren’t afraid to “overdraft” a player that checks all of the boxes for them.
29. Seattle Seahawks: DL Taven Bryan, Florida: The Seahawks have wasted a lot of assets over the past year on defensive tackles that will not be playing for them in 2018 and beyond. They should probably target some offensive lineman to finally get some talent up front for Russell Wilson, but they instead opt to roll the dice on another defensive tackle that has tremendous upside based on his athletic testing, strength, and on-field explosiveness. The Seahawks do need a defensive tackle, although, Seahawks fans should be wary about spending a top draft pick on a defensive tackle after blowing two 2nd round picks on Malik McDowell and Sheldon Richardson and trading away Michael Bennett. Taven Bryan is undoubtedly raw, but he has received comparisons ranging from Michael Bennett to JJ Watt all because of the athletic ability that he possesses. General Manager John Schneider has repeatedly filled the Seahawks roster with explosive athletes like Taven Bryan, and Pete Carroll will probably be fascinated by the idea of adding a Wyoming farm boy to that locker room (whether that is/should be relevant is debatable).
30. Minnesota Vikings: OL Will Hernandez, UTEP: The Vikings could use some help on the offensive line, and they jump at the opportunity to add a player like Will Hernandez this late in the 1st round. Mike Zimmer was secretly hoping to add another chess piece to his defense at this pick, but a run on defensive players wiped out the majority of their board leaving Will Hernandez as their top remaining choice. The Vikings already have a very talented defense, they have some very talented receivers, they just signed a franchise quarterback, and they should have a very good running back if Dalvin Cook can recover properly. The only weak position group is the offensive line. Will Hernandez will immediately plug in at left guard and will be key in protecting their new franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins. Hernandez is an absolute bulldog of an offensive lineman at 6’2” 330lbs. He is a great athlete with the ability to pull out in space and displays impressive recovery ability for a player his size. He is one of the strongest players in the draft and plays with a perfect level of aggressiveness that doesn’t draw a flag but gets into the head of opposing players. Hernandez is a tone setter on offense and will look good playing between Riley Reiff and Pat Elflein.
31. New England Patriots: LB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: The Patriots don’t ever have many holes to fill, but they could always use some additional pass rush. They didn’t have many guys who could provide much of a rush last year, and while they will have Derek Rivers healthy this season, adding another player to help in this area is going to help them tremendously. Lorenzo Carter wore many different hats for Georgia’s defense and will be a similar weapon for Bill Belichick in the Patriots defense. Carter can rush the passer with his hand in the dirt, he can blitz from anywhere in the front 7, and he had the speed to easily cover running backs. Carter has incredible speed and explosiveness for a linebacker, and he does it all at 250lbs. He should be a good fit alongside Dont’a Hightower and will help keep Kyle Van Noy limited to a more specialized role that suits him best. The Patriots have plenty of experience with molding raw athletes into great linebackers. Lorenzo Carter is the next in line.
Trade: The Philadelphia Eagles trade 1.32 and 7.250 to The New York Giants for 2.34 and 4.108
32. New York Giants: QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: The Eagles are likely candidates to trade back because they aren’t desperate for one position. The extra picks give them a better chance to replace some of their expensive vets with cheap rookies. The Giants move up to secure the 5th year option for Mason Rudolph. They passed on a quarterback at #2, but they grab one here that should still have the ability to operate a successful offense under Pat Shurmur. Mason Rudolph checks a lot of the boxes NFL teams look for so it should be no surprise to see him sneak into the end of the first round here. The Giants can sit Rudolph behind Eli Manning until they are comfortable with him taking over. Sitting Rudolph behind Manning also buys them some time to put together a capable offensive line, so they don’t have to expose Rudolph to an absurd amount of hits. Rudolph came from an offense that got the ball out quick so there should be some concern with throwing him into the fire behind a weak offensive line. Rudolph is also one of highest character guys in this draft and will be able to handle the New York media.
Cleveland Browns: OL Kolton Miller, UCLA
Trade: The Philadelphia Eagles trade 2.34 to The Oakland Raiders for 2.41 and 4.10
Oakland Raiders: DB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Cleveland Browns: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Indianapolis Colts: DB Donte Jackson, LSU
Detroit Lions: EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
New Orleans Saints: DL BJ Hill, NC State
Chicago Bears: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
Denver Broncos: RB Sony Michel, Georgia
Philadelphia Eagles: DB Mike Hughes, UCF
Miami Dolphins: DL Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Oakland Raiders: OL Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh
Trade: The Washington Redskins trade 2.44 to The Baltimore Ravens for 2.52, 4.118, and a 2019 5th
Baltimore Ravens: WR DJ Chark, LSU
Green Bay Packers: DB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
Cincinnati Bengals: OL Billy Price, Ohio State
Arizona Cardinals: TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State
Trade: The Los Angeles Chargers trade 2.48 to The Tennessee Titans for 2.57, 4.125, and 5.162
Tennessee Titans: EDGE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
Indianapolis Colts: DL Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State
Dallas Cowboys: WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
Detroit Lions: OL Connor Williams, Texas
Washington Redskins: RB Ronald Jones, USC
Buffalo Bills: OL Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
Trade: The Kansas City Chiefs trade 2.54 to The Pittsburgh Steelers for 2.60 and a 2019 3rd
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Malik Jefferson, Texas
Carolina Panthers: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Trade: The Buffalo Bills trade 2.56 to The Miami Dolphins for 3.73, 4.123, and 4.131
Miami Dolphins: TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
Los Angeles Chargers: DB Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
Trade: The Atlanta Falcons trade 2.58 to The Seattle Seahawks for 2.61 and 5.146
Seattle Seahawks: DB Carlton Davis, Auburn
San Francisco 49ers: EDGE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
Kansas City Chiefs: DL Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
Atlanta Falcons: DL PJ Hall, Sam Houston State
Minnesota Vikings: TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Trade: The New England Patriots trade 2.63 to The Houston Texans for 3.80 and 4.103
Houston Texans: OL Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
Cleveland Browns: EDGE Arden Key, LSU