1. New York Jets: Sam Darnold QB USC
It’s clear that if New York ends up with the top pick in the draft they had to trot out Hackenburg to see what he’s got. There is a chance that Hackenburg proves he has what it takes to be the franchise quarterback, but more than likely the Jets will use this pick on one of the top quarterbacks available. There are many in the media that consider Sam Darnold to be the next Andrew Luck with his arm talent and ability to produce in clutch situations. Maybe this pick will finally give the Jets a franchise quarterback they’ve lacked for decades.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Arden Key DE LSU
Quarterback is a clear need as projected starter Brian Hoyer is merely a stop gap till 2018. They paid plenty of attention this past offseason towards Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garappalo and that is where I believe they go after the season. Taking a quarterback in free agency will allow the 49ers to target Key giving them and explosive edge rusher that they haven’t had since Aldon Smith.
3. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen QB Wyoming
Even though Tyrod Taylor recently got a new deal and the teams seems to be high on 5th round pick Nate Peterman that shouldn’t stop the Bills from taking a top quarterback here. The team is clearly in rebuild mode after shipping away Sammie Watkins and Ronald Darby in addition to rumors of other players being on the market. The fact that Taylor’s deal was redone and such a big deal shows that the team isn’t looking at him as the future.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquan Barkley RB Penn State
With DaShone Kizer continuing his development and showing promise, the Browns can look in another direction with their top pick. Wherever Hue Jackson has gone, running the football has been paramount to his offenses. Isaiah Crowell hasn’t played bad, but he isn’t the feature back this team needs. Barkley’s combination of speed and power has allowed him to dominant since arriving at Penn State.
5. Chicago Bears: Cristian Wilkikns DT Clemson
Before the Bears shocked everyone with the Mitchell Trubisky trade the name associated with the Bears was Stanford’s Solomon Thomas. Without getting Thomas or someone at the position later in the draft the Bears still have an opening for a dynamic defensive lineman to pair next to Akiem Hicks. Wilkins ability to play both end and tackle would make him an ideal fit for the end position as DC Vic Fangio likes his ends to be able to play both the 3 and 5 techniques.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Rosen QB UCLA
All indications point to Blake Bortels struggles continuing which means the Jaguars could be finally time to move on from him. Rosen has all the physical tools but concerns about his leadership skill are very similar to that of Connor Cook a couple years back. If those concerns can be debunked and he’s able to bounce back from injury, we could see Rosen push Sam Darnold to be the first quarterback taken in the draft.
7. Los Angeles Rams: Tavarus McFadden CB Florida State
By trading for Sammie Watkins the Rams hopefully filled their giant need for a true number one receiver. This allows the Rams turn to reestablishing their defense as one of the best in the league. With Wade Phillips taking his defense needs man cover corners because they play so aggressive with their front seven. Phillips defense thrives by having three high caliber corners which has led the team he’s been on to drafted a corner in the first round. McFadden would also provide some insurance in case Trumaine Johnson doesn’t resign after being franchised two years in a row.
8. Baltimore Ravens: Derrius Gice RB LSU
Baltimore has made it known that they need to get better running the ball and which fueled speculation that they would target one of the top backs in the 2017 draft. Adding a dynamic back like Gice would give Baltimore a bell cow back and allow players like Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead to be more specialty players like there are suited.
9. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry DE Boston College
New Orleans knows that they need to get the defense going if they want to make a run at the playoffs focusing on the secondary in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they still lack the edge rusher to really take pressure off the defensive backs. Landry lead the nation in sacks in 2016 by using explosive quickness. Having Landry along with Cam Jordan and Sheldon Rankins only enhances their pass rush that would go along with their improved secondary.
10. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James S Florida State
With Gus Bradley in as defensive coordinator the Chargers are looking to build their defense to be similar to that of the Seahawks. While the Chargers have Jaheel Addae and drafted Rayshawn Jenkins they still could look for Derwin James to be their version of Kam Chancellor. James has been the do it all safety in his short time and is considered to be the best player in college football by some writers.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams OT Texas
Back in 2015 the Bengals used their first and second round picks on Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher to eventually become their bookend tackles for years to come. However, both players have struggled and now the offensive line is a huge issue. If tackle becomes the huge need like most assume the Bengals could make it a point to fill so that Andy Dalton has time to throw the ball to all his new weapons.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
If the Vikings want to get back into playoff contention they have to improve the offense. They addressed the line and running back this past offseason, but now their focus should turn to the passing game. Receiver shouldn't be too big of a need if Laquan Treadwell can stay healthy and continue his development, but they need to add more weapons to the group. A group with Theilen, Diggs, Treadwell and Ridley would be a vast improvement and really help out Sam Bradford.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
The 2017 draft was focused on improving a defense that finished at the bottom of the league in both run and pass defense statistics. While adding rangy safety Malik Hooker is big, the secondary still needs some help. Fitzpatrick has thrived as both a nickel corner and a safety at the college level providing a playmaking presence. Fitzparick could easily line up at all over the secondary as a chess piece for Chuck Pagano’s defense.
14. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea DT Washington
Why the Redskins let Chris Baker walk is beyond me, but his departure left a big void in the middle of the Redskins defense that could exploit their poor inside linebacker play even more. Vea is very similar to another former Washington Husky in Danny Shelton but what makes Vea different is he possesses better pass rushing potential. For a man that is 6'5 332 he has good lateral agility and is very tough to block one on one. The combination of Vea, Jonathan Allen and Stacy McGee is a more impressive defensive line and be an upgrade over current projected starter Ziggy Hood.
15. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell DE Clemson
Normally taking defensive lineman was the norm for the Panthers under GM Dave Gettleman, but with him being fired it is up in the air what their eventual new GM will do. However, they may keep that trend going as Julius Peppers is on a one-year deal and Charles Johnson is also on a short term deal. This will allow Ferrell to continue his development and eventually provide a dynamic duo with Daeshon Hall.
16. Denver Broncos: Da'Ron Payne DT Alabama
With the 28th rated run defense you would have assumed the Broncos would have spent some time adding to the middle of their defense to help stop the run. Instead they left it practically untouched only adding interior pass rusher DeMarcus Walker and a couple of journeyman run stuffers. Da’Ron Payne has provided a presence in the middle of the Alabama defense but his ability to play the run and provide some pass rush make him a perfect fit in this evolving defense.
17. New York Giants: Mitch Hyatt OT Clemson
One of the reasons the Giants could miss out on the playoffs in 2017 is their offensives line. Both tackle positions have been a weak point with Ereck Flowers struggling since he came into the league. New York chose only to sign Chargers cast off DJ Fluker to address the issue which means it could become their top target entering the 2018 offseason. Luckily the 2018 draft looks promising at tackle and one of the top guys they could target is Clemson's Mitch Hyatt. Hyatt has locked down the left tackle position since his arrive as a true freshman providing a blind side protector for Deshaun Watson helping the Tigers win a National Title. Adding Hyatt would allow the Giants to either move Flowers to right tackle or follow what the Rams did with Greg Robinson and ship him off in a trade.
18. Cleveland Browns: Rashaan Evans LB Alabama (From - Houston)
In Gregg Williams’ seek and destroy defensive scheme he loves his linebackers to not think and just go attack the ball. He has talent in Christian Kirksey and Jaime Collins, but Joe Schobert is likely a starter. Looking to add to the group he could turn to Evans who is a bullet on the field attacking the ball with a feverish tenacity. Fast and aggressive, Evans is perfect for this defense.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Kalen Ballage RB Arizona State
In 2016 Carson Wentz’s 609 passing attempts were more than they would have liked but when your having to trot out Darren Sproles as your main running back there isn’t much you can do. Adding LeGarrett Blount was thought to be a short term solution but he’s struggled so far. His struggles along with the release of Ryan Matthews could lead the Eagles to turn towards an all-around back. Ballage has the size to run between the tackles, but his strong suit might be his receiving skills.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
For the longest time the Cardinals have had stud corner Patrick Peterson locking down one side, but have struggled to find someone opposite of him. Former running back turned cornerback Brandon Williams was drafted in the second round but has been slow to make an impact. If he continues to struggle the Cardinals may feel the need to find another elite corner to really take the pressure off Peterson and make their secondary the best in the league.
21. Miami Dolphins: Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame
Slowly but surely the Dolphins have built a quality roster that has them poised to return to the playoffs. The offense thrived late in the season when Jay Ajayi was able to provide a running presence and taking the pressure off of Ryan Tannehill. With Brandon Albert gone and Leremy Tunsil moving outside to tackle there is a huge void inside at guard. Isaac Asiata was drafted in the 5th round but adding Nelson could provide them some stability at guard and be a force in the run game with his combination of speed and power.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb DE North Carolina State
While the Bucs drafted Noah Spence in the second round a couple years back, they still really lack much of a pass rushing presence without the exception of Robert Ayers. Even if Spence is able to develop, they could really use at least one more pass rusher. Chubb is an athletic and long defensive end that can attack the edge and give the Bucs three potential high quality pass rushers
23. Tennessee Titans: CeCe Jefferson DE Florida State
The 2017 Draft was all about the offense for the Titans but they could swing back to the defense to put the finishing touches on an emerging defense. Brian Orakpo and Derek Morgan have given them an edge presence at outside linebacker but Kevin Dodd hasn’t lived up to his top 40 draft slot. Add in that there isn’t anyone in that fourth pass rushing role who could eventually replace either or both Orakpo or Morgan when their contracts expire in the next couple of years.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Dre'Mont Jones DT Ohio State
Adding Dontari Poe was a good acquisition for the Falcons as he gives them another tackle next to Grady Jarrett, filling a major hole. The problem is Poe has a long history of injuries and there really isn’t much depth behind him. Jones is only a redshirt sophomore but the talent is there with quickness and lateral agility to make plays in the backfield and down the line.
25. Detroit Lions: Josh Sweat DE Florida State
Saw what you want about Ezekiel Ansah having a down year, but the Lions have nobody else to rush the passer allowing the opposing teams were able to double him on a regular basis. Detroit desperately needs to find someone to to help Ansah out and could turn to a what looks to be a talented edge class with some top end talent. Sweat has the skill set to be a first round prospect, but there are some concerns about his knee long term.
26. Buffalo Bills: Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M (From - Kansas City)
New faces in new places for the Bills at receiver as Sammie Watkins is gone and Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones are in. The unit needs some work as Matthews and Jones both are short to intermediate possession receivers. Needing a playmaker, they could turn to Kirk who has produced in the SEC since his true freshman year. Kirk is at his best creating separation in and out of breaks but also has the speed to be a deep threat.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Peter Kalambayi OLB Stanford
Just because they drafted Taco Charlton in the first round last year shouldn’t prevent them from coming back to it again. Especially since the Cowboys keep getting defensive ends suspended. If they’re able to get some of their talent back, the Cowboys really lack that speed ball off the edge having power ends. Kalambayi plays as a OLB in the Cardinal 3-4 and could be the complement to Charlton and Irving.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mark Andrews TE Oklahoma
Tight end has been an issue for the Steelers ever since Heath Miller retired. Ladarius Green was supposed to be a solution but he couldn’t see the field while they just traded for Vance McDonald. Don’t let the trade for McDonald fool anything as the Steelers could still use a weapon over the middle of the field.
29. Seattle Seahawks: Trey Adams OT Washington
Look for the Seahawks to continue to draft offensive lineman as they cycle through players so they can keep their money invested in the unit low and use that money elsewhere, something they’ve done to keep their high priced defenders together. Adams plays a lot like current Lion’s LT Taylor Decker and could give the Seahawks their best tackle since Ruseell Okung, when he was healthy.
30.Oakland Raiders: Josey Jewell LB Iowa
If the Raiders want to be a true elite team, they need to address the linebackers and corners. As we speak the Raiders may have the worst group in the NFL. Looking for help they could turn a player like Jewell who isn’t going to be considered an elite NFL athlete but he has elite level instincts and is always around the ball.
31. Green Bay Packers: Marquis Haynes DE Mississippi
With the Packers signing Ahmad Brooks recently it should tell you everything about the amount of talent they have at the position. Haynes is a smaller defensive end who can also play standing up which translate well to the Packers scheme where they like to move their pass rushers around.
32. New England Patriots: Jerome Baker LB Ohio State
New England loves to have versatile linebackers who can do it all. Baker isn’t a guy that is going to line up in the box often, but he does have the ability to play in coverage and out in space which gives the Patriots something they haven’t had since Jaime Collins was traded away.