NFL Mock Draft 2018: Complete 1st-Round Predictions Before NFL HonorsFebruary 3, 2018
The NFL offseason hasn't officially begun yet, but it's already been pretty crazy. One quarterback is flipping teams, nearly a quarter of the league has a new coach in place and players like Kirk Cousins and Le'Veon Bell highlight an intriguing potential free-agent period.
And we haven't even mentioned the draft yet, which is always the most fascinating event on the NFL's offseason calendar.
Let's break down how the draft might play out below before examining how free agency could affect the event.
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
6. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
9.* San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
10.* Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
11. Miami Dolphins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
13. Washington: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA
15. Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
16. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
18. Seattle Seahawks: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
19. Dallas Cowboys: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
21. Buffalo Bills: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City): Vita Vea, DT, Washington
23. Los Angeles Rams: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
25. Tennessee Titans: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
26. Atlanta Falcons: Derwin James, S, Florida State
27. New Orleans Saints: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
30. Minnesota Vikings: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
31. New England Patriots: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
Oakland and San Francisco will flip a coin to determine the Nos. 9 and 10 picks.
The reported Alex Smith trade to Washington revealed a few things for mock drafters. For one, Washington is no longer in need for a quarterback. But for another, the Browns reportedly were interested in acquiring Smith, meaning the team could be seeking to address the position with a veteran option and could turn their attention to a free agent like Kirk Cousins.
Now, it's probably a long shot that Cousins would sign with a rebuilding team like Cleveland. It seems more likely that he would go for a team with more veteran talent in place, like Denver. But it would be fascinating—or infuriating, depending on who you ask—if the Browns bypassed taking a quarterback with a first-round pick yet again.
How Cleveland approaches the draft will be dependent on the quarterback they potentially sign in free agency, if they go that route. If its Cousins, that's your franchise guy for the foreseeable future. The Browns aren't signing Cousins then taking a quarterback with the No. 1 or 4 pick.
Teddy Bridgewater would be another signing that would suggest the Browns wouldn't use a top pick on the position, since he's a younger player they could build around.
But what if it's a player like Sam Bradford?
In that case, the Browns might be seeking a short-term solution at the position to groom a young player, keeping them in position to take a player like Josh Allen. And how Cleveland decides to approach addressing their quarterback position this offseason will define the entire draft as well.
Let's say they sign Bridgewater and decide he's the future at the position (and let's say Denver signs Cousins). That frees the Browns to address the rest of the roster at Nos. 1 and 4, where they can nab some combination of Saquon Barkley, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bradley Chubb.
That, in turn, leaves a lot of quality quarterbacks to potentially fall down the board. The Giants can select their top guy. Solid options will drop to the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals and perhaps even Buffalo Bills. The entire draft would be altered in that scenario.
Another thing the Browns could do in that scenario is trade back. Maybe the Jets fall in love with Josh Rosen and know they need to leapfrog the Giants to get him. The Browns haven't been shy about accumulating draft assets in the past. If they get blown away with an offer, they're in a position to take it.
Now, banking your franchise's future on a free agent that isn't Cousins is hugely risky, which is why the most likely scenario remains the Browns simply selecting a quarterback at No. 1. But the fact that the team reportedly expressed interest in Smith means that they are exploring all avenues, and it's possible they won't go quarterback with either of their first-round selections.
For a fanbase that watched the Browns pass on players like Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson, that might be maddening. But it also leaves the Browns with options.
And it's always good to have options.