2018 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Updated Projections

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterOctober 9, 2017

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Updated Projections

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    You might be thinking it's far too early for a mock draft, but if so, you probably aren't a fan of one of the winless or one-win teams in the NFL right now. If you're a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan or one of those Giants, Chargers, 49ers or Jets faithful hoping for a rebuild, we're here for you.

    A mock draft in October won't have the accurate draft order—I use the current NFL standings for that—or every player in the upcoming draft class, but it does give us an early look at team needs and which college players could realistically fill those needs in the first round. Matching needs to value to players is what it's all about this time of year.

    Taking into account expected team needs due to trades, free agency and retirements and including all of the top draft-eligible underclassmen, here's how the first round would look.

1. Cleveland Browns

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    The Pick: QB Sam Darnold, USC

    USC quarterback Sam Darnold has struggled at times in 2017, but he's also playing with an injury-ravaged offensive line and with a relatively new supporting cast at wide receiver. Those might sound like excuses, but it's important to know why Darnold's numbers (12 TD, nine INT) are down compared to last year. 

    NFL teams will have to put those stats into context. Several of the interceptions were the result of dropped passes by his receivers, and Darnold's completion percentage (64.8) is still impressive considering those drops. When you break down the film, Darnold tries at times to fit the ball into windows he doesn't have the arm for, or he misses a defender and throws a bad ball. Overall, though, his accuracy and intangibles make him a potential early first-round pick given the demand for quarterbacks.

    The Browns may feel good about the development potential of rookie DeShone Kizer, but if they're selecting this early in the 2018 draft, the front office has to consider grabbing a top-tier quarterback. Granted, they traded out of chances to draft Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, so perhaps they know something we don't.

2. San Francisco 49ers

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    The Pick: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

    The San Francisco 49ers' top need is at quarterback, but they could bring impending free agent Kirk Cousins to California to reunite with his old offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. This mock draft assumes the 49ers do make the move to get Cousins. If that changes, future mock drafts will reflect it, and a quarterback will be the top need.

    With Cousins in the fold and a good backup in C.J. Beathard, the 49ers can start building a roster that will allow for a quick turnaround. With a projected $50 million to spend next offseason, per Over The Cap, general manager John Lynch can fill holes on the interior offensive line with veterans and be aggressive adding a stand-up pass-rusher and another wide receiver through free agency. 

    That frees up the first-round pick for the best player in college football; Penn State's Saquon Barkley. 

    Many will yell that you never draft a running back this early, but I think you do when that running back is an elite talent. And given the impact backs like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette are having as former top-10 picks, that trend should be reversing given the low cost of a top pick under the current CBA.

    Most running backs aren't worth a top-five pick. Saquon Barkley is.

3. New York Giants

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    The Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

    It would unfair and wrong to pin all of the blame for the New York Giants' 0-5 start on quarterback Eli Manning. He is far from the only problem here. But the Giants haven't had a top-five pick since 2004, the year they acquired Manning. When you're drafting early, you have to take advantage of it.

    Josh Rosen compares closely to Manning or Matt Ryan. He's a tall, smart pocket passer with prototypical skills and the thick skin needed to handle the New York media. Helping matters, Rosen could sit and learn behind Manning as a rookie. There would be no rush for the true junior to get on the field right away.

    The Giants desperately need to fix their offensive line, but there isn't a tackle worth drafting at No. 3 overall on my current board. That might change depending on Texas tackle Connor Williams' return from an MCL injury, but as of now, the best bet is drafting a quarterback. Some may point to the Giants' selection of Davis Webb in the third round last year as a reason they won't go this route againand I do like Webbbut having a couple of young quarterbacks to develop at a low cost is a good problem to have.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

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    The Pick: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

    The Los Angeles Chargers finally got a win in Week 5, but they still remain in the top four in draft order. Similar to the Giants, if you're picking this early, you focus on the premier positions like quarterback, left tackle and edge-rusher.

    The Chargers don't need help at edge-rusher after spending first-round picks on Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa in recent years. They have a huge need at left tackle, but there isn't a value at this pick. With Philip Rivers starting to wear down and no clear plan in place for the future, using the No. 4 pick on a super-talented quarterback who could benefit from sitting for a year or two is a brilliant team-building plan.

    Josh Allen isn't a plug-and-play quarterback, but he does have the traits to excite NFL coaches and scouts. Though Rivers may not be open to grooming a young quarterback, Allen would be an ideal player to have waiting in the wings. If coaches can harness his athleticism and work on his decision-making, he could become great one day.

5. Chicago Bears

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    The Pick: FS Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

    The Chicago Bears are in good shape as their rebuild unfolds under general manager Ryan Pace. The team has a young quarterback, two good running backs, a solid offensive line and some playmakers in the front seven on defense. What's lacking are weapons on the outside both on offense and defense.

    There isn't a wide receiver worthy of a top-10 pick in this year's draft, so reaching for one at No. 5 would be foolish. It'd be better to wait until later rounds and add a value pick. Where the Bears can make a Day 1 impact selection is with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

    The Alabama defender can play free safety, strong safety, nickel cornerback or outside cornerback at a high level. His ability to handle multiple assignments points to a high football IQ. Fitzpatrick is also athletic enough to be a ball hawk in the middle of the field.

    The Chicago pass rush is coming along nicely. Putting a game-changing safety behind the rush could put this defense over the top.

    *Based on draft order before Monday Night Football

6. Tennessee Titans

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    The Pick: S Derwin James, Florida State

    The Tennessee Titans were a trendy pick to win the AFC South before the season began, but they're struggling through five weeks. That may turn around once quarterback Marcus Mariota returns from his hamstring injury, but based on the current standings, a top-10 pick could allow Tennessee's front office to load up and fill major needs.

    The Titans have a hole at pass-rusher, and there are available talents like Harold Landry (Boston College), Arden Key (LSU) and Bradley Chubb (NC State) still on the board. So, why do I have them drafting a safety? Because Derwin James is a top-tier athlete with big playmaking skills.

    James moves like a free safety but has the build of a linebacker (6'3", 215 lbs). He's able to impact the game from a single-high set, locked up with tight ends in man coverage or when he's blitzing off the corner. The Titans do need pass-rushers, even if Kevin Dodd and others break out, but the chance to get a rare breed at safety is impossible to pass up here.

7. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)

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    The Pick: CB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

    With the second pick the Houston Texans sent to Cleveland to move up and draft Deshaun Watson, the Browns are able to add a potential shutdown cornerback to replace Joe Haden. Going to Florida State to grab a plug-and-play starter like Tarvarus McFadden is a great way to use the extra pick.

    McFadden grabbed eight interceptions in 2016 and shows up all over the field with prototypical size (6'2", 205 lbs) and length. He's a matchup problem for receivers in man coverage because of his size, length, speed and coverage instincts. Looking at the Browns roster, no one stands out as a true No. 1 cornerback. McFadden would change that.

    The Browns still have needs across the board, and I did consider another edge-rusher here to pair with Myles Garrett, but the overwhelming need for a No. 1 cornerback and the value of McFadden match up perfectly.

8. Arizona Cardinals

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    The Pick: QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

    This isn't where I would select Mason Rudolph, but this mock draft is a prediction of what the teams would do with this draft order and current draft stock. The Arizona Cardinals badly need a young quarterback prospect, and Rudolph has the accuracy and pocket presence to play early if 2017 is Carson Palmer's final season.

    The Cardinals may be looking at a total rebuild if head coach Bruce Arians, Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald all retire. That would point me to a "best player available" mentality. Arizona could even try to build up its defense and create a dominant unit there while relying on David Johnson to carry the offense. That doesn't seem to be a Steve Keim move, though. This does.

    Rudolph is talented, but I worry about how much the scheme at Oklahoma State creates space for his receivers and allows him to make easy throws that won't be there in the NFL. His arm strength does look better this season, but it still isn't a strength compared to the rest of the class. And yet, in the right scheme, Rudolph has the accuracy and pocket awareness to be an above-average starter. 

9. Indianapolis Colts

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    The Pick: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College

    The temptation to draft Texas left tackle Connor Williams was pretty big, but the Colts need a pass-rusher, and general manager Chris Ballard has a history from his days in Kansas City of being able to find starting-quality linemen outside the first round.

    Harold Landry is a quality player. He's rated as my top senior prospect in the country. For a 3-4 defense like the one Indianapolis runs, Landry can stand up off the edge and rush with balance, burst and great flexibility around the corner. He may not be a 10-sack rookie, but Landry will give the Colts an immediate impact off the edge and finally provide the team with a defensive presence teams must game-plan for.

    How Ballard runs his draft board will be interesting to watch, but the Colts sat tight and drafted the best player available in each round during the 2017 draft. That led to Ballard collecting steals in Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson and Marlon Mack. Landry at No. 8 overall could be another great pick for Ballard and the Colts.

10. Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Pick: DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson

    Once again, I considered Texas tackle Connor Williams with this pick, but the Cincinnati Bengals should be patient with young tackles Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi. Though both were early-round picks, it was known they needed to be developed coming out of spread schemes in college.

    If the tackle spots are held for development, that makes defensive line a big need in Cincinnati. With Geno Atkins getting older and a spot next to him open, Christian Wilkins is a great pick as the Bengals' future starting 3-technique tackle.

    Wilkins has a great first step but also impresses with his motor and work ethic. You'll often see No. 42 for Clemson chasing down screen plays and making tackles down the field. He's at times overshadowed by all the great talent around him on the Tigers' defensive line, but the traits Wilkins brings to the table are top-10 caliber.

11. Oakland Raiders

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    The Pick: OT Connor Williams, Texas

    The Oakland Raiders are built well with money spent at quarterback and pass-rusher and talent at wide receiver, up-and-comers on the defensive line and secondary and a solid offensive line. Reggie McKenzie's team isn't likely to draft in the top 10 very often. 

    Left tackle Donald Penn is 34 years old, and the right tackle spot in Oakland is unsettled. Drafting an offensive lineman instead of a coverage linebacker or another cornerback may frustrate fans, but it's the right move to make given the construction of this roster and the age of Penn. You also have to hope former high picks Gareon Conley, Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu can form a solid secondary moving forward.

    Connor Williams is an elite athlete at tackle but went down in Week 3 of the season with an MCL injury. The junior could still return to the Texas lineup this year, but his injury is the reason I have him available at pick No. 10 when he'd normally be the No. 6 overall player on my board if healthy. Landing that kind of talent to protect Derek Carr should make Raiders fans happy.

12. Washington

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    The Pick: DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan

    If Kirk Cousins leaves for the San Francisco 49ersas he does in this mock draftwhat does Washington do at quarterback?

    The best move would be not to panic and reach for Luke Falk or Lamar Jackson here. Head coach Jay Gruden can get by with a strong defense, a good offensive line and Colt McCoy for a season or two. It'd be better to draft Baker Mayfield in Round 2 than reach here and pass up the chance to get a premier player at another position.

    Former general manager didn't get a chance to build up Washington's defensive line before he was fired. That makes this the No. 1 priority for the new regime. Michigan's Maurice Hurst is the type of big-motor, athletic, versatile player that fits the 3-4 scheme but can also bump down to a pass-rushing role on third downs.

    The key for the 2018 offseason in Washington is patience, which hasn't been owner Daniel Snyder's strength. The worst move for this team would be reaching for a quarterback instead of addressing early needs and then looking at passers in the next few rounds.

13. Dallas Cowboys

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    The Pick: DL Dre'Mont Jones, Ohio State

    Take one look at the Dallas defense and you know they need help in the middle of the line. While edge players like Demarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton are showing production and promise, the line next to Maliek Collins needs addressed. Adding another athlete with a top-15 pick would be ideal.

    Dre'Mont Jones is a prototypical athlete with exceptional first-step quickness and the pursuit speed to be an asset in the run and pass game. Pairing Jones with Collins will give the Cowboys an interior presence on pass-rushing downs that currently doesn't exist.

    Dallas may want to address the left guard spot or add a safety here depending on how the rest of the season goes, but the best value and need pick is adding to a defensive line that is lacking in talent and depth.

14. Minnesota Vikings

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    The Pick: OT Mitch Hyatt, Clemson

    The Minnesota Vikings will have a decision to make after the season at quarterback, as both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater have uncertain futures. Given those options, the team should be in a good spot under center moving forward regardless. That gives Minnesota flexibility with its first-round pick. 

    The smart move would be to continue investing on the offensive line. Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers are fine, but neither is a long-term solution on the outside of the line. Using a top-15 pick on a left tackle with high athleticism and a proven track record against top-tier talent is where I'd go.

    Mitch Hyatt is still a little raw, but he's been tested by Alabama, Florida State and many of the nation's best pass-rushers in the last two seasons. He's proven himself ready for the NFL and has the tools to play on Day 1 in the Minnesota offense.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    The Pick: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are poised for a breakout year, but what we've seen so far in 2017 is that the defense needs work. General manager Jason Licht can address that with another cornerback coming off the board in Round 1.

    Denzel Ward and Vernon Hargreaves III are similar players, with Ward being a little more physical, but both are good at the line of scrimmage in press situations and excel breaking back on the ball in man or zone coverage. Pairing the two won't give the Buccaneers a ton of size at cornerback, but they would be among the toughest, feistiest group in the league.

    Going offensive line here or even adding another pass-rusher would make some sense, but Ward's value and the team's need make him the pick over Arden Key (LSU)—who has question marks off the field—and Bradley Chubb—who would be in an already-strong three-man rotation.

16. Miami Dolphins

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Pick: DE Arden Key, LSU

    The first thing you should know about Arden Key is that he has the talent to be a top-five pick. He's long, athletic and has added weight to get up to 265 pounds on a 6'6" frame. On the hoof, he easily passes the test. 

    So why is he on the board here?

    Key left the team in the spring for undisclosed reasons, and after rejoining the program, he suffered a shoulder injury and had surgery. Key missed the first two games of the season and has been slow to regain his form since getting back onto the field. 

    If the light comes back on for Key and teams are comfortable with his off-field history, he won't be here for Miami. This might be too good to be true, given the team's age at defensive end. But pairing last year's first-rounder Charles Harris with Arden Key is how you build a strength.

17. New Orleans Saints

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    The Pick: DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State

    The problems on defense continue in New Orleans, and they're big enough that the Saints will overlook the need for a quarterback of the future to secure a top-end pass-rusher capable of playing in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

    The upcoming free agency of 38-year-old quarterback Drew Brees makes this a tough call. A quarterback would be ideal here, but the value isn't right, and reaching on a quarterback could set the team back even further. Instead, sticking with a player of value at a need is the right move for the Saints.

    Bradley Chubb has been one of the nation's best pass-rushers for two seasons now and is on a tear this fall. He has the size (6'4", 275 lbs) to play off the edge either with his hand in the dirt or standing up. Given the lack of pass rush in New Orleans, getting Chubb here and a quarterback in the second round should be the plan.

18. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Pick: SS Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

    If you're a Jaguars fan, you have to feel good not only about the future of the team, but also how well the young players are performing. Everything is clicking for the Jags, with a future need at quarterback the only shadow on a bright season so far.

    Addressing quarterback will be key, but there is no value at this pick. The better move is to go after an Alex Smith or Kirk Cousins in free agency. Either quarterback would make the Jaguars an instant playoff contender (if not more), given the talent elsewhere on the roster.

    Adding Ronnie Harrison takes one of the league's best secondaries and makes it even better. Harrison can play the Kam Chancellor role with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye on the boundary. Starters Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson are getting the job done at the moment, but with Harrison at strong safety, the future would be unreal.

19. Los Angeles Rams

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Pick: OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

    The Los Angeles Rams patched the holes on their offensive line by signing free agents Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan last offseason, but the matter of youth is still a major concern here. Getting younger and better on the offensive line to aid Jared Goff and Todd Gurley as they grow is huge for Los Angeles.

    Quenton Nelson is a true impact starter as a rookie at guard. That isn't a sexy position, but it should be for the Rams. This is the type of player who walks into the facility as a starter and holds down that spot for five years throughout his rookie deal. Nelson is smart, tough and has the mean streak you want from an interior blocker.

    The Rams offensive line is playing much better through five weeks, but continuing to add talent to the front five will ensure the young talent on this offense can continue to grow and reach their potential.

20. Baltimore Ravens

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    Scott Threlkeld/Associated Press

    The Pick: RB Derrius Guice, LSU

    The Baltimore Ravens have had a weird season thus far with a blowout at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, but they still remain in serious playoff contention after five weeks. Quarterback Joe Flacco is still the starter, and the offensive line looks to be solid and improving. That leaves a question mark at running back.

    The back-by-committee approach works here with some results, but the team lacks a true featured back. Derrius Guice has been slowed by a knee injury for LSU this season but brings an angry running style to fit perfectly into the AFC North. He's also a quality receiver.

    The key to extending the life of a quarterback is to protect him and give him help. The Ravens have protected Flacco well. Now it's time to give him a back who can keep safeties and linebackers honest and open up the offense again with play-action passing.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Pick: LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

    There are enough questions about the future of Le'Veon Bell at running back to consider Ronald Jones of USC here, and that may be the pick moving ahead. But for now, I'm operating under the assumption that both Bell and Ben Roethlisberger will be back next season.

    The defense used to be iconic in Pittsburgh, but in the last decade, it has been the weakness while the offense has carried the load. The Steelers need more balance to get back to the Super Bowl. Adding Joe Haden helped fill a major need in the secondary, but the lack of three-down threats at linebacker stands out as a need that Pittsburgh hasn't addressed in past drafts.

    Malik Jefferson is a rare athlete, but his instincts seem a touch slow at times. That can be coached up, and you can keep him clean with big defensive linemen who allow for a better view of the play. If the Steelers believe they can develop Jefferson, he can become a linebacker unlike anything they have on the roster and a perfect complement to up-and-comers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree on the edge.

22. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

    The Seattle Seahawks aren't afraid to spend early draft picks on offensive linemen, but they might need to revisit their method for choosing them. Instead of focusing on highly athletic players with upside, drafting more of a sure thing in Mike McGlinchey would fill a huge hole and give immediate relief to Russell Wilson.

    The Seahawks have needs at wide receiver and could even go cornerback to get younger in the secondary, but no values were available that fit their style of bigger, longer cornerbacks. Running back Derrius Guice (LSU) was tempting, but Seattle gets good production from the running back by committee approach.

    Considering Wilson is good enough to win a Super Bowl and the defense is still solid, the best way for Seattle to use a mid-first-round pick is fixing the offensive line that might be the NFL's worst in 2017.

23. Detroit Lions

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Pick: DE Dorance Armstrong, Kansas

    I thought the Detroit Lions would get another young pass-rusher last offseason. The time is now in what looks like a good defensive end class.

    Dorance Armstrong is a bright spot on a bad Kansas team, but that makes him easy to spot when watching the Jayhawks on film. He's a tremendous athlete with the body (6'4", 246 lbs) to easily add another 20 pounds. NFL scouts will love his arm length, agility and the speed with which he gets into the backfield.

    The Lions offense will be solid in 2018 with the return of left tackle Taylor Decker. And while the defense has shown improvement, this unit needs to beef up to compete in the NFC.

24. Buffalo Bills

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Pick: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

    Trading away Sammy Watkins opened up the job of WR1 for the Buffalo Bills. Even with the addition of a solid Jordan Matthews, who profiles more as a No. 3 receiver, the team needs a true top-tier wideout. 

    The 2018 wide receiver class looks deep but not overly talented at the top. In that way, it compares well to the 2016 receiver class. We could see a number of late-first-rounders at receiver and then a few more in Round 2. Alabama's Calvin Ridley is the most pro-ready from a skill set and route-running aspect, and he makes sense in Buffalo as a future top target.

    Buffalo likely will address the quarterback and running back positions in the offseason given age and contract situations with LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor, but with the first of its two first-rounders, Buffalo should go best player available and look to add a reliable pass-catcher.

25. New York Jets

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Pick: EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

    The Clemson defensive line is loaded, so you're forgiven if you forget defensive end Clelin Ferrell is a legitimate first-round talent at defensive end. The 6'5", 260-pounder has the length, strength and agility to be a threat off the edge in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme, and he could be a steal at the end of Round 1 as a seamless replacement for Sheldon Richardson.

    The Jets are supposed to be tanking, but that isn't going well given the team's 3-2 record. They may ultimately win four games, but at this point in the season, the team is projected to draft late in Round 1. With no quarterback to draft in this scenario, the focus should shift to adding a standout edge-rusher, offensive tackle or wide receiver. 

    Ferrell is a value pick here, which we know the Jets like under general manager Mike Maccagnan. He's also a leader and a player who doesn't know what losing tastes like, similar to Jamal Adams. As the Jets continue to remake their culture, landing an all-around player like Ferrell would be a smart pick late in Round 1.

26. New England Patriots

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Pick: DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

    The New England Patriots are 3-2, and it feels like the sky is falling in Foxborough. Some predicted this team would go 16-0, but after five weeks, it has the worst defense in the NFL. There's no way head coach Bill Belichick, a defensive guru at heart, can let that slide. Expect big changes in the offseason.

    Those changes can start with a bookend defensive end with three-down skills from a college defense that prepares players for the pros. Sam Hubbard is the ultimate strong-side defensive end given his strength, motor and ability to play well against the run and pass. 

    Hubbard has legit pass-rushing skills but is stout enough against the run to win favor with Belichick and Co. as the type of defender the outside of this defense can be built around. If Derek Rivers makes it back to his college self after injury, the Patriots have a nice rotation with Hubbard, Rivers and Deatrich Wise up front.

27. Denver Broncos

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Pick: OL Billy Price, Ohio State

    When all else fails, good general managers draft tough, smart, impact players who can help right away. That's what Denver Broncos general manager John Elway would get with Ohio State center Billy Price.

    Price, who has played center and guard, has the tools and football IQ to step right into a lineup at either position. You'll be hard-pressed to find a tougher, more complete blocker in the college game than this captain. Price compares well to former Alabama center and Indianapolis Colts first-round pick Ryan Kelly, but with a bit more flexibility.

    Given Denver's struggles on the offensive line, grabbing an elite talent like Price is a building-block move that can anchor the entire front five.

28. Atlanta Falcons

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Pick: SS Marcus Allen, Penn State

    It's a testament to how well-built the Atlanta Falcons are that they don't have a clear-cut need in the first round. The best fit that offers value would be to go after a true safety in Marcus Allen to pair with Keanu Neal to turn Atlanta's outfielders into a true strength on the roster.

    The offensive and defensive lines are solid enough here to not reach for talent, and while I did consider another receiver or cornerback to add depth, the move that can take the team over the top is a true strong safety on defense. 

    Marcus Allen has played a Cover 2 safety for Penn State and shows the instincts, range and playmaking skills of a top-50 pick. With solid testing, he'll solidify a Round 1 grade on my board thanks to his wiring and football IQ. That's the kind of addition that can keep Atlanta ahead in the NFC.

29. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Pick: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

    The Philadelphia Eagles have built a fun offense with quarterback Carson Wentz at the center. That collection of talent is producing well enough to be headed toward a late first-round pick through five weeks of play.

    How can the already talented offense get to the next level? Head coach Doug Pederson may see some Jamaal Charles in running back Ronald Jones of USC, but my move would be to continue adding talented receivers like Christian Kirk of Texas A&M. If the team can hang onto Alshon Jeffery, adding Kirk to a roster that includes Nelson Agholor and the potential of Mack Hollins would give Wentz elite weapons with which to work.

    Philadelphia's secondary remains a work in progress, but in terms of value and need, the speedy Kirk is the best bet. He has the gear to take the top off the defense, which would allow Jeffery to eat on underneath routes and Agholor to continue dominating from the slot.

30. Green Bay Packers

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The Pick: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

    The Green Bay Packers are getting by on defense with a collection of cornerbacks who don't seem to be a great fit for the scheme. That could ultimately change with a coaching decision, but on paper, the secondary needs a true outside cornerback with the skills to take on No. 1 receivers. Adding a playmaker like Jaire Alexander would change everything.

    Alexander has the size, speed and skills of a true top corner. His 5'11", 190-pound frame is a great fit in an outside role, and his film shows a tough, tenacious style of play on the edge. While a knee injury did limit him early in the year, it's easy to see him becoming a first-round cornerback if he continues to play well and can test up to expectations.

    The Packers could always address the offensive line or linebacker groups here, but fixing the secondary should take precedence this offseason.

31. Carolina Panthers

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Pick: OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

    Signing free agents like Matt Kalil is a short-term solution to what has been a long-term problem in Carolina. For the future of this team to remain bright, it must fix its offensive line. With former general manager Dave Gettleman out and Marty Hurney re-hired as the team's architect, it bears watching how that is prioritized. 

    Orlando Brown is massive (6'7", 340 lbs) and touts rare agility at the tackle spot. On paper, he looks too big to move well enough to handle speed and outside pressure, but his combination of length, timing and athleticism works well when protecting the blind side. For a team like Carolina with a mobile quarterback, drafting a college tackle with experience keeping Baker Mayfield clean makes sense.

32. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Pick: CB Anthony Averett, Alabama

    After securing a top-tier wide receiver with their original pick, the Buffalo Bills use the pick from Kansas City acquired in the Patrick Mahomes deal to add another starting-caliber cornerback to go alongside Tre White.

    After moving Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for wide receiver Jordan Matthews, the cornerback position became one of need, at least for depth purposes. Alabama's Anthony Averett has the skills to play nickel cornerback right away, but he could easily develop into an outside starting cornerback in the Jason Verrett style.

    A quarterback to close out the first round wouldn't be a surprise, but as long as Tyrod Taylor continues to play well, the Bills can look to add talent across their roster while adding a middle-round quarterback to compete for the starting job.


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