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NFL Mock Draft 2018: Complete 1st-Round Predictions Before NFL Honors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Tyler Clark #52 and Roquan Smith #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate a stop against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first quarter in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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. 

                     

Mock Draft

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. WashingtonCalvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

15. Arizona CardinalsBaker 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 LionsHarold 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 RamsDenzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

25. Tennessee TitansJoshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

26. Atlanta FalconsDerwin James, S, Florida State

27. New Orleans Saints: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

29. Jacksonville JaguarsDallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

30. Minnesota VikingsChukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

31. New England PatriotsCarlton 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.

               

Analysis

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

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.

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