NFL Draft 2018: 1st-Round Order and Updated Mock Draft Projections

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2018

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen warms up before an NCAA college football bowl game against Kansas State, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Super Bowl LI is officially set after the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots advanced with a victory in their respective conference championship game Sunday.

That increases the number of teams in their offseason to 30. While free agency and shoring up coaching staffs will be the first orders of business for some of those teams, it's the draft that will undoubtedly draw the most attention in the coming months.

Here is a look at how things are shaking out at the moment, with 30 of the 32 draft spots set (or mostly set).

      

Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has made it clear he wants the "right" fit, rather than be the highest possible draft pick. He just doesn't have a choice.

Cleveland is a quarterback wasteland that is a rancid collection of bad decisions, poor contracts and terrible coaching. The Browns have either squandered elite talent, made poor personnel decisions or a historically bad combination of both.

It's time for them to pull the trigger on Rosen and hope he's the savior. Rosen couldn't do it for UCLA, turning his preternatural talent into a series of slightly underwhelming and often injury-plagued seasons. But he's the best quarterback in this class, and it's time the Browns finally go all-in on a new franchise player.

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2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Eli Manning's future should not play into the Giants' decision-making here whatsoever. Darnold, Rosen or whoever is leftover from the Browns should be the pick here. Manning is a viable NFL starting quarterback, but he's not a particularly good one at this point and turned 37 this month. The Giants were clearly moving to some sort of succession plan when they benched him midway through the season.

Darnold is a potential franchise quarterback and a guy who could probably benefit from sitting behind Manning for at least a few weeks in 2018. He threw for 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 2017, struggling a bit with turnovers and decision-making. That also makes him something of a natural fit to replace Manning, who also struggled with those things.

              

3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Colts owner Jim Irsay all but tipped his hand at wanting to draft Barkley earlier this month, noting he wants a star running back behind Andrew Luck.

"You put [Andrew Luck] on that field healed up, and all the sudden you put an Edgerrin James-type of player, maybe, with that bigger, faster, stronger, and let this man continue the job that he's already begun to do," Irsay told reporters. "This is going to be a special place to be and a special place to play."

Acquiring Barkley would be a huge boost as Luck looks to get his career back on track following a lost 2017. The Penn State product is arguably the best player in this class: a three-down back who combines stellar top-end speed with power and pass-catching ability out of the backfield. He has potential to be the best running back in the NFL from the moment he steps on the field and will assuredly be better than the plodding of Frank Gore's recent seasons.

      

4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans): Connor Williams, OT, Texas

If the Browns draft their franchise quarterback at No. 1, they need to be serious about protecting him. Joe Thomas has manned their left tackle spot for more than a decade; he's been the one good thing about the most demoralizing franchise in the sport.

Thomas is also 33 years old and coming off the first major injury of his career. Even if he returns at full health next season, he's an aging player on a roster that's mostly youth-laden. Thomas' career trajectory is not going to be the same as Rosen or any other quarterback the Browns may draft.

Selecting Williams, a natural left tackle who could serve as Thomas' heir apparent, would be a way to ensure whoever their next quarterback is will have top-level protection. It's hard to argue against Thomas and Williams at the two tackle spots. 

        

5. Denver Broncos: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Broncos need a franchise quarterback. That much is apparent. They're just not likely to find one at No. 5—unless they think Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield is the real deal. 

With so few other top-level skill position players worthy of top-five distinction, infusing Fitzpatrick into an already strong secondary could bring the Broncos back to elite status. Fitzpatrick can play either corner or safety at an elite level, giving them the versatility to move around the field as a rookie and play whatever role is needed.

        

The Rest

6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

9. San Francisco 49ers*: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

10. Oakland Raiders*: Derwin James, S, Florida State

11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

13. Washington: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

14. Green Bay Packers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

16. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

18. Seattle Seahawks: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

19. Dallas Cowboys: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

20. Detroit Lions: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

21. Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

23. Los Angeles Rams: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

24. Carolina Panthers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

25. Tennessee Titans: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

26. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

27. New Orleans Saints: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

30. Minnesota Vikings: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson

32. New England Patriots: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

*The draft position of the 49ers and Raiders will be decided by a coin toss.