clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Mock Draft 2018: Packers’ needs have changed after the start of free agency

Free agent movement and draft order changes characterize a very different second version of my 2018 mock.

UCLA v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The NFL Draft is just over a month away and the buzz will only grow now that the heavy movement period of free agency has closed.

With those moves came a shift in team needs and a considerable re-structuring of my mock draft in version two. Adding to the intrigue were trades to move up from the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to pick numbers 3 and 12, respectively. Each team clearly has a quarterback in mind, but will both teams, especially Buffalo outside the top 10, get the signal caller they’re targeting most?

From the Green Bay Packers’ perspective, edge rusher and cornerback seem to be the team’s most glaring needs heading into draft day. Green Bay added Tramon Williams on Thursday, but will it add another outside cover man in round one?

Without further ado, here is my mock draft 2.0.

1. Cleveland Browns - Sam Darnold, QB, USC (previous pick: Josh Allen)

Picking up Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo gives Cleveland an opportunity to sit their quarterback of choice for at least one season before throwing him into the NFL fire. Sam Darnold is certainly the leading possibility here according to most experts and a strong Browns contingent was on hand for his Pro Day. I still think Josh Allen meets the organization’s measurables at the position more, but Darnold takes the top spot in this mock.

2. New York Giants - Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (previous: Sam Darnold)

Barkley had as impressive a Combine as any prospect could have. At this point, I think Barkley slides into the second spot for the Giants as New York prolongs its quarterback plans for the future for a later time or until it sees more from backup Davis Webb. Barkley immediately would provide an offensive weapon for Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and company. If the Giants do go quarterback, keep an eye on Josh Rosen.

3. New York Jets - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (previous: Rosen at pick 6)

The Jets moved up from pick six to three in a pre-draft trade with Indianapolis and gave away a medley of second round picks in the process. You don’t make that trade without a quarterback in mind and the Jets are no longer on the outside looking in at some of the top prospects in the class. Rosen does a lot of the little things right in terms of mechanics and accuracy, but could use more consistency in decision-making. The Jets would give Rosen time to develop and be coached in reading defenses after adding two veterans in free agency.

4. Cleveland Browns - Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (previous: Chubb)

After picking up a quarterback with the first overall selection, the Browns figure to have several trade-back options for other teams targeting the position. If they stay with this pick, Cleveland could go multiple directions. Cornerback is a consideration as well as offensive line. But Chubb is the choice here to create a bookend duo of pass rushers with last year’s top pick Myles Garrett.

5. Denver Broncos - Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (previous: Tremaine Edmunds)

After trading away Aqib Talib, the Broncos could certainly opt for another cornerback prospect like Denzel Ward. They could also use depth at linebacker with a rising athletic player like Tremaine Edmunds. But with Denver signing Case Keenum to a one-year deal and trading away Trevor Siemian, the Broncos have set the stage for another quarterback selection despite picking Paxton Lynch two years ago. The big-armed Allen has been seen up close and personal by John Elway in the past and gets the nod here to become the Wyoming cowboy leading the Broncos.

6. Indianapolis Colts - Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State (previous: Barkley at pick 3)

The Colts are going through some transition at corner with the departures of Rashaan Melvin and Vontae Davis in free agency. They did sign Pierre Desir to a one-year contract and have last year’s second round pick Quincy Wilson on the roster. But a top corner really helps re-solidify the secondary and Ward has emerged as the best true corner in the draft. Quenton Nelson could be a possibility to help protect Andrew Luck, but Ward makes sense here after the Colts traded back.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derwin James, S, Florida State (previous: James)

James has continued to elevate his draft stock this offseason. A strong Combine performance led many evaluators back to James’ tape where they saw a physical secondary player with versatility and tenacity. The Bucs were rumored to have paid extra attention to James at his Pro Day and this is a solid value pick for the Tampa defense.

8. Chicago Bears - Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame (previous: Nelson)

No change here for me. Nelson not only is a value pick at eighth overall, but fills a position of significant need. He’s the kind of player that could be a staple interior lineman for many years to come in Chicago.

9. San Francisco 49ers - Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (previous: Denzel Ward)

Adding Richard Sherman helped shore up the cornerback position and San Francisco is in position to take the best player available. Edmunds has the makings of a fantastic pro and could be used in a variety of ways to increase the pass rush from both the inside and outside linebacker positions. A player of Edmunds’ caliber would continue to push the Niners closer and closer to being a real contender in 2018.

10. Oakland Raiders - Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama (previous: Fitzpatrick)

There’s some concern about Fitzpatrick’s ability to play corner at the next level, but he could help Oakland in the slot as well as at safety as the team moves on from Reggie Nelson. Fitzpatrick’s versatility will intrigue the Oakland brass and would be an ideal pick here for a team that already added Gareon Conley last year and Rashaan Melvin in free agency.

11. Miami Dolphins - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (previous: Smith)

Baker Mayfield is still on the board here and Miami could definitely fall in love with this option to eventually replace Ryan Tannehill. But Miami could use some speed in its linebacker unit and Smith could line up at both the MIKE and WILL spots for the defense while the Dolphins wait and see on Tannehill’s ability to return from injury.

12. Buffalo Bills - Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (previous: Donte Jackson at pick 21)

Buffalo definitely moved up in the first round to be in position if any of the quarterbacks fell. It’s very possible the Bills aren’t finished trading up to land one of the top prospects. Still, in this mock, the Bills stay at pick 12 and get Mayfield. With Tyrod Taylor shipped to Cleveland and AJ McCarron signed to a short-term deal, the Bills can afford to let Mayfield sit and learn the NFL offense after playing in aerial and spread offenses at Texas Tech and Oklahoma. If the top five quarterbacks are off the board at this point, keep an eye on offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey after Buffalo traded Cordy Glenn to move up.

13. Washington Redskins - Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (previous: Payne)

The Redskins still need to find a stout, run stopper for the interior of their defensive line and, luckily, Payne is on the board. The Alabama standout is an athletic brute that will plug running lanes from day one and could be a real force if he can develop more pass rushing moves. Payne teams up with last year’s Alabama selection Johnathan Allen to beef up the defensive line in Washington.

14. Green Bay Packers - Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (previous: Marcus Davenport)

I’ve been a little skeptical of Landry after a senior season slowed by injury. Landry definitely needs to get stronger to hold the edge in the NFL and could use pro coaching to polish extra moves as a rusher after primarily relying on speed. But his quickness and bend is practically unmatched in this year’s edge rushing class and his testing at the Combine and Pro Day has vaulted his draft stock. With a lack of free agent talent available at pass rusher, Green Bay turns to the draft to improve an important aspect of Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme.

15. Arizona Cardinals - Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (previous: Baker Mayfield)

Arizona could use a younger quarterback to develop after adding Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency. But with the best options off the board, the Cardinals are able to add the best offensive tackle in the draft and fill a need.

16. Baltimore Ravens - Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (previous: Sutton)

Sutton’s workouts have elevated him above Calvin Ridley after displaying his size and quickness. There are questions about his route-running, but Sutton would team up with newly acquired Michael Crabtree and John Brown. The Ravens certainly will hope Sutton turns out better than the last wideout from the American Athletic Conference they selected in the first round (Breshad Perriman).

17. Los Angeles Chargers - Vita Vea, DL, Washington (previous: Vea)

No reason to change this pick. The Chargers need help stopping the run on the interior line. Vea strenghtens the defense alongside Corey Liuget and brings value in the latter half of the first round.

18. Seattle Seahawks - Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (previous: Jaire Alexander)

Seattle’s cornerback crew is a mess. They traded for Cleveland’s C.J. Smith and have interest in former Seahawk Byron Maxwell in free agency. But expecting either to be long-term solutions is unwise. Seattle has a few covermen to choose from here, but goes with the Hawkeyes’ ballhawk Jackson to try to replace the production of Richard Sherman.

19. Dallas Cowboys - Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (previous: Evans)

The Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to a long-term deal with Kansas City, leaving a hole at inside linebacker. Evans could step in immediately and be a long-term solution at either inside or weakside linebacker.

20. Detroit Lions - Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (previous: Guice)

Detroit added LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal in free agency and that figures to boost a slow running game. But bringing in an all-around back like Guice to be an eventual starter gives the Lions a weapon both now and in the future to aid Matthew Stafford.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Leighton Vander Esch (previous: McGlinchey at pick 12)

Interior offensive line is still a need after the Bengals moved back in exchange for tackle Cordy Glenn and a player like Iowa’s James Daniels could be in play here. Cincinnati can wait until the second round to pick up an early starter and instead selects Vander Esch to play multiple linebacking roles. With Vontaze Burfict’s suspension history, Vander Esch could add an inside presence when called upon.

22. Buffalo Bills - D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland (previous: Lamar Jackson)

Getting Mayfield at pick 12, the Bills could move to the offensive line to protect their new QB with a player like tackle Kolton Miller. But they also need major help at receiver to give A.J. McCarron and/or Mayfield a chance to succeed. Moore has impressed all offseason as a probable slot receiver and is the name that will surprise many on draft day with how high he goes.

23. Los Angeles Rams - Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (previous: Isaiah Wynn)

Center is still a need for LA and Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or Iowa’s James Daniels could be a fit. However, the Rams are desperate for an edge rusher as they prepare to head into 2018 without starters Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin. Davenport has loads of potential to unleash if a team is patient. He’s a high-upside pick at 23.

24. Carolina Panthers - Isaiah Wynn, G/C, Georgia (previous: Calvin Ridley)

Carolina lost Pro Bowl guard Andrew Norwell in free agency and plan to lose Ryan Kalil to retirement after next season. What better way is there to alleviate those issues than to draft an interior lineman that could help at either position? Wynn is versatile enough to handle either duty quickly.

25. Tennessee Titans - Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (previous: Harold Landry)

Tennessee has a large pass rushing need, but with the two biggest names off the board and Ridley still around, the Titans make a splash. The Alabama receiver’s stock has dropped, but Tennessee gets the chance to pair Ridley with last year’s first round pick Corey Davis and give Marcus Mariota a stable group of young, talented receivers that create plays downfield.

26. Atlanta Falcons - Taven Bryan, DL, Florida (previous: Bryan)

Free agency has hit Atlanta hard on the defensive line and the Falcons must replace some bodies, notably Adrian Clayborn, that can pressure the quarterback. Bryan can be lined up inside and out within Atlanta’s defensive scheme and is a high-upside selection late in the first round.

27. New Orleans Saints - Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (previous: Mike Gesicki)

A big-bodied tight end or receiver would be an ideal pick here and a player like Mike Gesicki or Dallas Goedert could provide some offensive creativity. But with Drew Brees set to ride out his career over the next two seasons, New Orleans could afford to develop a game-changing talent like Lamar Jackson. Can you imagine Jackson’s speed on turf at least eight game a year? Sean Payton could have a lot of fun designing gameplans around him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers - Justin Reid, S, Stanford (previous: Leighton Vander Esch)

The Steelers are thin in the secondary and Reid jumps into the first round with Pittsburgh addressing a big need.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State (previous: D.J. Moore)

Releasing Marcedes Lewis and allowing Allen Robinson to walk in free agency, the Jaguars are desperate for bigger receiving bodies to complement their younger, quicker pieces. Goedert is one of those players, an all-around receiver and blocker that can stretch the field and become an important safety valve for Blake Bortles or whoever the next Jaguars quarterback is.

30. Minnesota Vikings - Connor Williams, OT, Texas (previous: Williams)

Williams slides a little bit into the late first round, but couldn’t fall into a better spot. Minnesota could use depth all along the offensive line and a starter at guard. Williams can start his NFL career inside before eventually shifting back outside if needed while protecting new franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins.

31. New England Patriots - Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (previous: Josh Jackson)

Anyone watching the Super Bowl knows that the Patriots need help at cornerback, especially in light of Malcolm Butler’s departure. Several corners could go in this range, including Isaiah Oliver and Jaire Alexander, but the Patriots pick Hughes who has significant long-term potential despite inexperience and height concerns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles - Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State (previous: Sony Michel)

Offensive tackle is a legitimate position Philadelphia could upgrade and Kolton Miller is still on the board. But the Eagles let Trey Burton walk and released Brent Celek, creating a need for tight end depth behind Zach Ertz. The Super Bowl winners are in position to take the best available talent with a deep roster and young quarterback. With Gesicki, Philadelphia not only gives Carson Wentz two viable tight end targets but a large, versatile weapon to work the outside on occasion. Gesicki would be dangerous in Doug Pederson’s offense.