With the NFL season now over and the Philadelphia Eagles coming away with the Lombardi Trophy, it’s time to look forward to the offseason, specifically the NFL Draft. Though things are sure to change between now and draft day, it’s always fun to guess at who teams may be targeting. With that said, here is a very official, 100% accurate top 10 mock draft.
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Coming off a historically bad season, the Cleveland Browns head into the offseason needing a quarterback (Surprise!) New general manager John Dorsey seems likely to pursue a guy like Kirk Cousins in free agency, but until that comes to fruition, we have to assume the team is going to use the No.1 selection on a young gun. Darnold makes some poor decisions with the football at times, but there’s no doubting his arm talent and potential. After trading away chances at Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in previous drafts, I think the Browns finally pull the trigger and pick up Darnold.
2. New York Giants – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
There’s simply no doubting Josh Allen’s physical ability to play at the next level. With the strongest arm in the class and prototypical size, Allen has the tools to be a starter, but he must be in the right situation. Given an opportunity to learn behind Eli Manning for a season would do wonders for Allen, allowing him to work on his accuracy and decision-making without the pressure of being a starter. Allen is a guy that needs to sit and learn, and few places will give him a better opportunity than with the Giants.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Colts expect to get back a healthy Andrew Luck next season, but the team needs to solidify the offensive line and protect their franchise quarterback. No. 3 overall may seem like a high selection for a guard, but Quenton Nelson is an elite prospect at the position. Much like Zack Martin did in Dallas, Nelson would give the entire Indianapolis offense a boost and give Luck some much-needed protection.
4. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
With their second first-round selection, the Browns may be tempted to select the dynamic Saquon Barkley, and while he would certainly be a great offensive weapon, I like Bradley Chubb as the pick here. Barkley is a great talent but teams can find starting-caliber running backs later in the draft, whereas Chubb can come in from day one and form an explosive pass-rushing tandem with former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett. By picking up Chubb here, the Browns would go into the 2018-19 season with one of the league’s most promising defensive line rotations.
5. Denver Broncos – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Quarterback is certainly a need for the Denver Broncos heading into the offseason, but the prediction here is that the team lands Kirk Cousins in free agency, giving them a starter at the position. Based on that assumption, I believe the Broncos will go with the best player available and pick up Saquon Barkley with this selection. C.J. Anderson is a solid starter, but the team can save $9 million over the next two years by releasing him this offseason. Barkley has all the athletic traits you could want in a running back and along with Cousins, he would give the Broncos a huge upgrade on offense.
6. New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Unless the New York Jets suddenly develop huge amounts of confidence in Christian Hackenberg, expect the team to draft a quarterback with the No. 6 overall selection. Josh Rosen can be hot-headed and at times he commits costly turnovers, but make no mistake, he’s worthy of such a lofty pick. Rosen makes a handful of “wow” throws each game and he has shown an ability to face adversity and come out on top. In a tough market like New York, Rosen could prove to be the right quarterback to lead the team into the future.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Coming off a disappointing season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must address their porous secondary during this offseason. Brent Grimes is a free agent and though Vernon Hargreaves is a former high pick, he has been inconsistent over the past two seasons. Throw in a weakness at the safety position and it becomes clear that a guy like Minkah Fitzpatrick is a perfect fit for Tampa Bay. Much like Jalen Ramsey, Fitzpatrick is incredibly versatile, having the ability and length to play either corner or free safety. The Bucs need to build on a disappointing defense and Fitzpatrick is a perfect player to accelerate that rebuild.
8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
After all that the Chicago Bears have invested in quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it only makes sense that the team makes surrounding him with more receiving talent a priority. Calvin Ridley, the next in a line of Alabama receivers that includes Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, isn’t as explosive as Jones, but he enters the NFL with a very polished, well-rounded game. Considering the best receiver Trubisky had last season was Kendall Wright, it would be exciting to see what he does with a talent like Ridley at his disposal.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
With a franchise quarterback in tow and loads of cap room to work with, I expect the 49ers to be aggressive in free agency in an attempt to add more talent to the offense, in the draft, the team could look to add a star defender. Denzel Ward is a bit undersized, but he has all the speed and talent you look for in a cornerback. With Ward strengthening the secondary, San Francisco’s defense would suddenly look much better on the back end.
10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Oakland Raiders were perhaps the biggest underachievers in the NFL this season, thanks largely to a subpar defense. The linebacking group, in particular, had their struggles and although NaVorro Bowman helped out a bit, this is still a unit that lacks talent. Enter Roquan Smith, an incredibly quick linebacker with the ability to drop into coverage and make plays from sideline-to-sideline. Smith has the talent to get the Raiders defense back on track and help return Oakland to the playoffs.