The 2018 NFL draft is finally here.
I've had so many mock drafts I've lost count, but below is my final projection of what all 32 teams will do Thursday night. Remember, this is what I'm? hearing teams will do, not what I would do if I were the GM.
And yes, I'm making a trade this year -- two, in fact. They are both denoted by an asterisk.
Here is my final mock draft for 2018:
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1. Cleveland Browns
I've had Darnold here in every mock I've done, dating back to my Way-Too-Early mock in May 2017, so why waver now? In my opinion, he's the best QB in this draft. We'll find out if John Dorsey agrees tonight.
2. New York Giants
This is going to be a tough choice for the Giants, but Barkley is the top player in this draft and a generational talent. Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Barkley are an explosive set of weapons for QB Eli Manning.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts)
Mayfield is the most experienced QB in this class and we know he won't shy away from the spotlight of the Big Apple. This has been between Mayfield and Josh Rosen all along. I'm going with my gut here.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)
Chubb is my No. 2-ranked prospect and the best all-around defensive player in the draft. Line him up opposite Myles Garrett (along with Emmanuel Ogbah) and Cleveland all of a sudden has arguably the most talented young pass rush in the NFL. This would be a dream start for the Browns.
5. Buffalo Bills (from Denver)*
This is pretty simple from Buffalo's side: The Bills have been looking to move up and two QBs went in the top three picks. The Bills can't afford to be left out when the music stops and no top-tier QBs are left. Denver squeezes two second-round picks (53, 56) and a third-rounder (65) out of the Bills, but Buffalo gets a sturdy, big-handed QB with a huge arm -- a perfect fit for the AFC East.
Denver's thought process is a bit more complex. At this point, their top two targets -- Mayfield and Chubb -- are gone. Left guard is a significant area of need and Quenton Nelson is an elite prospect, but John Elway hasn't used a first- or second-round pick on a guard in the past seven draft classes. And Elway's six first- or second-round offensive picks in his seven-year tenure have been busts. Elway has crushed early-round defensive picks in his tenure and CB Denzel Ward is an elite prospect -- though a notch below Nelson. I keep being told Denver will ask too much from Buffalo, but I think they find a way to get this deal done.
As far as Allen's tweets that he apologized for, it's a very sensitive subject. But I have a hard time believing teams that were seriously considering drafting him didn't have that information at their disposal already.?
6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)
If the Colts can't get a deal done to move out, I think it's Nelson or Roquan Smith here. I'll lean Nelson to give Andrew Luck some much-needed protection on the offensive line. Nelson is a plug-and-play starter.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This pick seems like the worst-kept secret in the NFL. James is extremely versatile and would give a huge boost to a porous Tampa Bay secondary.
8. Chicago Bears
Nelson would fit as well if he's here, but Smith is a priority. A true sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Smith has tremendous instincts and can do it all.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Fitzpatrick doesn't fit one defined position, but he's a heck of a football player and could take Eric Reid's spot. Ward and Tremaine Edmunds are also considerations here.
10. Arizona Cardinals** (from Oakland)
Another trade! Arizona doesn't have to give up nearly as much to move up five spots and get ahead of Miami for a QB. Rosen is the most natural thrower of the football in this class and gives the Cardinals a QB to build around.
11. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins haven't been able to cover at the linebacker position for years. Edmunds provides some relief and has excellent physical tools. Vita Vea is another option here.
12. Denver Broncos (from Cincinnati Bengals via Buffalo)*
In this trade scenario, the Broncos now have six picks in the first three rounds (12, 40, 56, 65, 71 and 90). If Denver trades back and still gets Ward, that would be a hell of a pull.
13. Washington Redskins
I feel like I've been mocking Vea to Washington for a year now, but the NFL's worst run defense (134.1 rushing yards per game) needs help. Putting Vea next to 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen should help to fix that problem.
14. Green Bay Packers
Alexander has been a fast riser through the process and played well when he was on the field. Green Bay needs help at cornerback and edge.
15. Oakland Raiders** (from Arizona)
Roquan Smith was the top priority, but he's gone in this scenario. There's been buzz all week about McGlinchey moving up boards, and Oakland can grab him here in front of Baltimore, which also needs tackle help. McGlinchey can take over at right tackle, where he played best early in his Fighting Irish career. O-lineman are going to go fast because teams don't want to be left out in a thin year. If Oakland stays at 10, Vea and Edmunds are in play.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens desperately need playmakers on the outside and Ridley is the best receiver and route runner in this class. This could also be a spot for Lamar Jackson or a trade down.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Brandon Mebane is 33 and Corey Liuget will start the season with a four-game suspension. The Chargers have a strong defense, but need help inside on the defensive line. Payne would help immediately.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle will likely try to trade back, as there are no offensive tackles worth picking and corner is a bit of a reach. With Michael Bennett traded to Philadelphia and Cliff Avril's status uncertain with a neck injury, pass rush is a big need. Davenport is raw, but the best available pass-rusher at this point.
19. Dallas Cowboys
With Dez Bryant cut, Dallas definitely has a need at wide receiver. Moore's 4.34 40 at the combine helped turn some heads, and he's a good route runner and great after the catch. Leighton Vander Esch has been rumored here, but there are some concerns about a neck injury. Seems to be a team-by-team deal on their comfort level.
20. Detroit Lions
The Lions need more playmakers on defense, and pass-rushing help to take pressure off Ezekiel Ansah. Evans is a very good pass-rusher and doesn't need to come off the field in passing situations.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills)
Cincinnati has a glaring need at center, and Daniels is the best one in this draft. This makes too much sense for an offensive line that was disastrous last season.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)
Isaiah Wynn, G, Iowa
Buffalo's second-biggest need is at guard, so now that they have their QB of the future they need to protect him. If Wynn's medicals check out, he's a very solid player here.
23. New England Patriots
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
This would be something. Jackson needs to go to a team where can develop behind a veteran QB ( Tom Brady, check) and innovative offensive mind (Josh McDaniels, check). While he's being groomed to be Brady's successor, I'm sure the Patriots will find some clever ways to get him the ball in space.
24. Carolina Panthers
With star guard Andrew Norwell now in Jacksonville, Carolina has a big hole at guard. Hernandez is a mauler and terrific run-blocker.
25. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee needs pass-rush help desperately and is banking here that it gets the 2016 version of Landry -- the one that led the nation with 16.5 sacks. Landry needs to expand his stable of pass-rushing moves, but he has a lot of potential.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta needs a player to help replace the departed Dontari Poe, and Bryan is a good fit. Bryan has elite first-step quickness, is extremely disruptive for offenses and looks like he's shot out of a cannon sometimes on film. He'll need time to develop his technique and instincts, but there's some Fletcher Cox in his game.?
27. New Orleans Saints
Hurst will be a 25-year-old rookie (player minor league baseball in Pittsburgh Pirates' organization), but is a very versatile player. My top-ranked tight end, Hurst has enough speed to threaten the seam and would give Drew Brees another weapon.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Even with Joe Haden and Artie Burns, the Steelers need more help in the secondary. Hughes plays much bigger than his size (5-10, 189) and is physical at the line. He'd fit Pittsburgh's press-man scheme well.
Another option here could be TE Dallas Goedert, but it's a little early. Sutton is a big-bodied (6-3, 218) receiver with good traits, but who needs to refine his route-running abilities. Offensive guard could be another possibility here.
30. Minnesota Vikings
My second-ranked center, Ragnow has been a fast riser the last couple weeks. A three-year starter at Arkansas, he has versatility and the toughness to start right away. The Vikings could plug him in at center or guard and check off one of their needs.
31. New England Patriots
This is one of Mel's guys, but there is no denying his traits. You don't find a lot of tackles who are 6-9, 309 with 34-inch arms. The Patriots would hope he solves their left tackle issue (with Nate Soldner gone to the Giants) down the road.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
This pick could go a lot of different ways. I expect Philadelphia to trade back and recoup some picks, especially with how strong its roster is and a team's desire to move up potentially for a QB or another player. If not, I think they'll go best available player, which was Michel on my board. Durability issues could bump Michel down.