Mel Kiper Jr. selected Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns, and Todd McShay picked Penn State running Saquon Barkley second to the New York Giants in the ESPN Insider pair's rotating mock draft.
The rules for their latest mock are fairly simple: "No trades; no deals that say 'I won't take Player X if you don't take Player Y.' It's just, 'This is whom I'd take' at every slot on the board for three full rounds."
Kiper started things off with the Browns taking the top quarterback on his board, Allen, while referencing his "perfect Browns' draft" article as the basis for his pick:
"The NFL is all about projection, and the 6'5" Allen has a high ceiling. He has a rocket arm. He has freakish talent. He has done everything he has needed to do during the predraft process—from the Senior Bowl, to the combine, to interviews with teams—to be the first pick in this draft.
"Now, Browns fans, I know his college stats give you pause. But NFL teams love him. They love his tools, even if he's raw. And with Tyrod Taylor in the mix for 2018, Allen doesn't have to play immediately. He will need some time to adjust to the NFL, and he will need to be coached up. This could be your franchise quarterback, Cleveland."
It seems likely at this point that the Browns will take a quarterback at No. 1, but which one they pick will be the question that could define the generation for years to come. Also in the running will be USC quarterback Sam Darnold, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
But Kiper has been consistent, projecting Allen to the Browns from his first mock draft.
At No. 2, McShay noted that the Giants will consider Sam Darnold but that they'll instead nab Barkley, "a generational talent and the top prospect in the draft."
That No. 2 pick could dramatically alter the entire draft. It could potentially be a pressure point for teams trying to trade up to get a quarterback if the Giants decline to address the position with that pick. But nobody would blame New York for selecting its quarterback of the future to groom behind Eli Manning for a year or two, either.
At No. 3, Kiper went with Darnold to the New York Jets, addressing their primary need in the process. McShay then went with Bradley Chubb at No. 4, giving the Browns a pair of franchise bookends on the defensive line in Chubb and Myles Garrett. And at No. 5, Kiper selected Rosen to the Denver Broncos, giving the team the young franchise quarterback they've lacked since Peyton Manning's retirement.
The rest of the top 10 went as follows:
- 6. Indianapolis Colts: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
- 7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
- 8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- 9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- 10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Other notable selections included Mayfield coming off the board at No. 11 to the Miami Dolphins, Aaron Rodgers getting another weapon in Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley at No. 14, the Arizona Cardinals selecting dynamic but polarizing quarterback Lamar Jackson one pick later and the Philadelphia Eagles closing out the first round by adding to their cache of playmakers with running back Sony Michel.