*Note: As there was a tie, No. 9 and 10 overall will be decided via coin toss at the Combine. In order to determine the order for this mock, I literally brought a 49ers fan and a Raiders fan together for a coin toss (in what proved to be a monumental waste of time and resources). 49ers won the toss.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB. USC
Analysis: Simply couldn’t protect the ball in 2017, but offers more in both production and upside than all fellow quarterback classmates. See 2016 Rose Bowl vs. Penn State for a glimpse at how special he can be.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB. UCLA
Analysis: No worthy pass protection and the long-term need under center is palpable. Best to find your man a year early anyway, as this also relieves pressure on Shurmur to identify Eli’s successor. Rosen’s persona should mesh well in NYC.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE. NC State
Analysis: Though Indy’s rush offense was poor in 2017 its defense ranked 30th in yards (conceded) per game + 31st in sacks and Chubb is consistently dominant. This running back class may be the best in history – fry that fish later
4. Cleveland Browns (f/HOU): Saquon Barkley, RB. Penn State
Analysis: I struggled because this is the least-John Dorsey pick ever, but to land arguably the draft’s best player with the second of two picks makes it less of a luxury. O-line help still wouldn’t surprise me here either.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG. Notre Dame
Analysis: Unquestionably the best, most plug-and-play blocker in this draft class and the Broncos ranked 30th in sacks-allowed last year.
6. New York Jets: Calvin Ridley, WR. Alabama
Analysis: Ridley is a pass-game workhorse in the Reggie Wayne mold. Plenty of unpolished passers will still be available later, and with less immediate pressure than they would if taken here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB. Alabama
Analysis: Corner, safety – doesn’t matter. Tampa’s defense sorely needs a talent upgrade and Minkah fields an all-around game with huge upside. Adding some more length to that secondary is an added bonus.
8. Chicago Bears: Connor Williams, OT. Texas
Analysis: New head coach Matt Nagy arrives from an organization in KC that put a premium on O-lineman, and with a bright-eyed young passer under center comes the responsibility of protecting him.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB. Georgia
Analysis: Whether Reuben Foster plays 16 games or not, there’s a need to upgrade the linebacking unit. Roquan is an alpha-dog in the Patrick Willis mold.
10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT. Washington
Analysis: Brute power and an absurd first step, Vea is mammoth-sized (6’4″ 344lbs.) but packs it all into a good body. A 3-down space-eater who would certainly take some attention off Khalil Mack.
11. Miami Dolphins: Mike Hughes, CB. Central Florida
Analysis: Defense ranked 28th in the league in interceptions last season and there’s rather significant need for added talent + depth at the corner position. If not a quarterback (and I don’t expect it to be), pass defense must be a priority.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Baker Mayfield, QB. Oklahoma
Analysis: Shocker, right? Not really. Andy Dalton will be 31 this year and – after peaking in 2015 – has regressed considerably. His salary also escalates beginning in 2019, just in time for Mayfield to take reigns. Something’s got to give on that idle offense.
13. Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB. Virginia Tech
Analysis: Heavy down-hill playmaker who can bolster a run defense that was hapless in a few key moments last season. HWS (height/weight/speed) specimen cut from the same cloth as Dont’a Hightower.
14. Green Bay Packers: Rasheem Green, DT/DE. USC
Analysis: An all-encompassing defensive upgrade with an untraceable ceiling. Though boasting a similar skill-set (and pass rushing threat) to Fletcher Cox coming out of Mississippi State, Green’s best fit could come as a 5-tech.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB. Wyoming
Analysis: I have extreme hesitancy on Allen, but the need for long-term hope under center is unquestionably required. The physical tools are tantalizing – but he must sit for at least a year.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, OT. Oklahoma
Analysis: Likely a right tackle only, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Brown reminds me of another former mammoth OU tackle in Phil Loadholt, who was an above-average right tackle for 6 seasons.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Billy Price, C. Ohio State
Analysis: Multiple needs and the board is set up for all of them, but center may be the most glaring of all. Price is an angry blocker, day-one-ready and can arguably match even Phil Rivers for intensity.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Derwin James, S. Florida State
Analysis: At minimum, Chancellor claims he’ll sit out 2018 and this is a near-perfect solution from a talent perspective. The Legion of Boom is deteriorating and youthful turnover in the secondary is badly required.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB. Boise State
Analysis: Sean Lee is turning 32, has never played 16 games in a season and the Cowboys defense is consistently weakened without him. Vander Esch is an impressive athlete with low mileage, coming off an elite year of all-around production.
20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, DE. Texas at San Antonio
Analysis: Pass rush ineffectiveness necessitated the mid-season signing of Dwight Freeney and Ziggy Ansah is a free agent. Davenport bundles length, power and movement skills in a high-potential 6’6″ 255lb frame.
21. Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB. Ohio State
Analysis: Smooth, instinctual athlete who will likely play the majority of his snaps inside. Tre’Davious White was DROY-worthy, but the Bills’ pass defense still finished bottom-half in yards conceded in 2017.
22. Buffalo Bills (f/KC): Da’Ron Payne, DT. Alabama
Analysis: In 2017, the Bills defense ranked 29th in rushing yards conceded per game. Payne is a trim and powerful 3-down nose tackle who can help anchor a run defense early on as a rookie.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Joshua Jackson, CB. Iowa
Analysis: After Trumaine Johnson, who is a free agent, there is little to get excited about at the corner position. Jackson requires polish but possesses tremendous potential. B1G DB of the Year following a phenomenal 8-interception season.
24. Carolina Panthers: Courtland Sutton, WR. Southern Methodist
Analysis: After moving on from Kelvin Benjamin, this establishes an added big-bodied physical presence out wide for Cam. On the high-end, Sutton functions like Marques Colston did and can provide a consistently reliable target.
25. Tennessee Titans: James Daniels, C. Iowa
Analysis: Though he must continue to fill out his frame and strength is to be developed, Daniels can play all three interior positions along the O-line, where stability is needed. Titans have valued blockers with premium picks before.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, OG. Georgia
Analysis: Fleet-footed college tackle with Pro Bowl potential at guard moving forward – and an ideal schematic fit in a ZBS.
27. New Orleans Saints: Christian Kirk, WR. Texas A&M
Analysis: Doesn’t quite replace the vertical threat lost when Cooks was dealt, but Kirk’s style of play is similar to that of Odell Beckham leaving LSU. Lack of stability in Aggies’ quarterback situation hampered production.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S. Alabama
Analysis: Heavy, productive, down-hill defender tied into an athletic and imposing 6’3″ 215lb frame. More importantly, ready to help out from day one.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE. South Dakota State
Analysis: Relatively unpolished as a blocker, but there may not be a more dynamic route-runner and receiver from the tight end position in this class. Seems wildly unlikely a quarterback is considered here.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT. Notre Dame
O-line took a big step forward in 2017 and Elflein is a stud, but further reinforcement is needed. McGlinchey is a four-position blocker and would help immediately wherever he’s plugged.
31. New England Patriots: Taven Bryan, DT. Florida
Analysis: Piece of clay with tremendous upside. Lack of top-end collegiate production won’t prevent a confident coach like Belichick from acquiring such a talent. Patriots are quirky on draft day but always value defense early.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB. Alabama
Analysis: Ideal inside-outside fit in a base 4-3 front with impressive lateral movement abilities. Explosive box defender who doesn’t get swallowed or stuck to blockers.
33. Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Oliver, CB. Colorado
Analysis: Size/speed/length athlete + ball skills. Tremendous potential at the top of round two, and can also help as a returner.
34. New York Giants: Ronald Jones III, RB. USC
Analysis: Committee rushing approach isn’t working and RJ3 is a home run hitter with world class speed. Jamaal Charles 2.0.
35. Cleveland Browns (f/HOU): Justin Reid, S. Stanford
Analysis: Well-rounded, complete safety with good instincts and athleticism. “Student of the game”.
36. Indianapolis Colts: Derrius Guice, RB. LSU
Analysis: Uber-talent. Top 15 player based on 2016 tape but dealt with injuries in 2017.
37. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB. Louisville
Analysis: Playmaker in every sense – supremely effective passing on the move, but requires polish. Good situation sitting a year behind McCown.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arden Key, DE. LSU
Analysis: Defense is a mess and Tampa only mustered 22.0 sacks in 2017 – good for worst in the league. Key has double-digit sack potential.
39. Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller, WR. Memphis
Analysis: Reminiscent of Antonio Brown’s electric Central Michigan tape. Stat-freak who eats with feet despite diminutive physique.
40. Denver Broncos: Sony Michel, RB. Georgia
Analysis: Strong north-south rusher capable of hitting home runs, and he’s accustomed to running as part of a tandem/committee.
41. Oakland Raiders: Donte Jackson, CB. LSU
Analysis: Lacking in overall size, but might be the fastest corner available in this class. Adds a sorely required element to a cornerback group that must start over.
42. Miami Dolphins: Will Hernandez, OG. UTEP
Analysis: Interior O-line stability is desperately needed, and Hernandez started 37 games at LG in four years. LOVES a trench fight.
43. New England Patriots (f/SF): Jaire Alexander, CB. Louisville
Analysis: Jason Verrett 2.0 – probably a top 15 pick if he were taller, but size means less for Patriots when evaluating DBs.
44. Washington Redskins: James Washington, WR. Oklahoma State
Analysis: Adds a downfield element not currently present on the roster and Alex Smith is locked in at $71M guaranteed – he needs support.
45. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, DE/OLB. Boston College
Analysis: Coming off a down year, but looked to be college football’s most fearsome edge rusher in 2016 with 16.5 sacks (and 22.0 TFL).
46. Cincinnati Bengals: Martinas Rankin, OT. Mississippi State
Analysis: Might be at tackle, might be at guard, but he’s a 4-position blocker and enters the league ready to play now.
47. Arizona Cardinals: Simmie Cobbs Jr. WR. Indiana
Analysis: Life after Larry Fitzgerald’s retirement could be rough; might be best to groom a prospect with a similar skill-base under him.
48. Los Angeles Chargers: Terrell Edmunds, S. Virginia Tech
Analysis: Tremaine’s older bro; big-bodied, downhill safety adept in coverage. Willing tackler in the box and can physically match NFL tight ends.
49. New York Jets (f/SEA): Harrison Phillips, DT. Stanford
Analysis: High-motor, power lineman with violent hands. 15.0 sacks over the last two seasons. Steps off the bus pissed off.
50. Dallas Cowboys: Desmond Harrison, OT. West Georgia
Analysis: Texas transfer might be the premier ‘boom or bust’ prospect in 2018; mouthwatering dimensions and talent base. Collins eventually slides back inside.
51. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT. Michigan
Analysis: (Very) poor man’s Aaron Donald who can provide a consistent leverage-based pass-rush inside. Would be supreme value.
52. Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore, WR. Maryland
Analysis: B1G WR of the Year; combines strength + speed, Moore is a fantastic YAC threat and volume catcher.
53. Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB. Oklahoma State
Analysis: If you’re going to select a quarterback who’s at least one year away from meaningful snaps, better to do it on day two.
54. Kansas City Chiefs: Braden Smith, OG. Auburn
Analysis: The Olathe, Kansas-native ideally projects to guard (with swing-tackle versatility). It’s imperative to protect Mahomes while he acclimates.
55. Carolina Panthers: Kyzir White, S. West Virginia
Analysis: Complete safety and the ideal frame + skill base for an NFL safety. Ascending quickly.
56. Buffalo Bills (f/LAR): Frank Ragnow, C. Arkansas
Analysis: Experienced captain with guard versatility; natural replacement for the retiring Eric Wood.
57. Tennessee Titans: Andrew Brown, DE. Virginia
Analysis: Fits the 3-4 end profile perfectly and proved to be a penetrative force when rushing from in or out over the past two years.
58. Atlanta Falcons: Derrick Nnadi, DT. Florida State
Analysis: Squatty three-down nose tackle in a base 4-3 with impressive lateral movement skills; Poe, Rubin up for free agency.
59. San Francisco 49ers (f/NO): Kerryon Johnson, RB. Auburn
Analysis: Whether Carlos Hyde returns or not, more is needed; Kerryon can be the workhorse in any offense.
60. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson, LB. Texas
Analysis: Who knows if Shazier will play again and Pittsburgh badly missed the range he provided at the position. Supreme value.
61. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamarco Jones, OT. Ohio State
Analysis: Profiles well at either tackle spot and allows the Jags to reshuffle the deck along the O-line where necessary.
62. Minnesota Vikings: R.J. McIntosh, DT. Miami (FL)
Analysis: Height/weight/speed defender, just how Zim likes ’em. His dynamic skill-set would offer creative possibilities.
63. New England Patriots: Mike Gesicki, TE. Penn State
Analysis: Gronk is pondering retirement and Marty Bennett could be cut or retire; Gesicki is a Jeremy Shockey clone and helps in the red zone immediately.
64. Cleveland Browns (f/PHI): Carlton Davis, CB. Auburn
Analysis: Modern long-limbed press-man boundary corner; boasts terrific ball skills.
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