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Free agency changed draft projections for several clubs. We are going to see a new wave of mocks hit the internet because of trades involving April’s picks.
The Buffalo Bills started the trend when their front office sent the No. 21 overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and the 12th pick in the draft. The two teams also exchanged late-round picks, per NFL Network’s Peter Schrager.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the New York Jets pulled off a major deal Saturday, moving up to the No. 3 slot and sending the No. 6 overall pick, two second-round selections and a second-rounder in 2019 to the Indianapolis Colts.
With about five weeks until draft time, keep an eye on the New York Giants at No. 2 and the Cleveland Browns at No. 4. The Bills will likely try to hop over the Jets or sit behind them in the selection order.
For the moment, let’s take a look at a first-round mock draft that reflects the latest trades. Who will Gang Green choose with the No. 3 overall pick? What’s the plan for the Browns? Will the Colts select the top pass-rusher or No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2018 class?
2018 NFL Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
9. San Francisco 49ers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals): QB, Josh Allen, Wyoming
13. Washington Redskins: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
14. Green Bay Packers: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
19. Dallas Cowboys: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
20. Detroit Lions: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
23. Los Angeles Rams: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
24. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
25. Tennessee Titans: Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana
26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan State
27. New Orleans Saints: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
30. Minnesota Vikings: Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
31. New England Patriots: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
New York Jets Select QB Josh Rosen at No. 3
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Clearly, the Jets have their eyes set on a quarterback. Why else would they give up two second-round picks in this year’s draft and a second-rounder in 2019 along with the No. 6 overall pick to move up to the third spot?
General manager Mike Maccagnan will find his franchise signal-caller one way or another. Entering his age-39 season, quarterback Josh McCown has about a year left in the league. Teddy Bridgewater essentially signed a one-year tryout deal, per Rapoport. The prospect in this spot, barring unforeseen circumstances, will sit for a season before operating as the starter.
Despite the move, there’s still some uncertainty on which quarterbacks will remain on the board for Gang Green. Sam Darnold’s decision not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine indicates comfort on where he stands in draft projections. The USC product should go No. 1 to the Cleveland Browns.
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The New York Giants have signal-caller Eli Manning under contract for two more seasons, with $18.6 million in dead cap tied to his contract in that time span. There’s also a no-trade clause built into his deal, per Spotrac. General manager Dave Gettleman won’t select a player at No. 2 who isn’t going to see the field for at least two years, which rules out selecting a quarterback.
Based on the reasoning for the top two teams, Josh Rosen should fall to the Jets at No. 3. Former teammates and coaches often praise McCown as a great locker-room guy with leadership skills. He would serve as a great example for the UCLA product, who’s going to learn how to earn respect from his colleagues as a franchise centerpiece.
Rosen’s season-ending shoulder injury as a sophomore and concussions during the previous year may cause concern on durability, but the Jets will roll the dice on his arm talent and strong personality in a big media market.
Cleveland Browns Select CB Denzel Ward at No. 4 (Trade Back)
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After selecting Darnold in the top spot, general manager John Dorsey will look to address the void at cornerback.
Ideally, the Browns would attempt to trade back a few spots. Most would consider cornerback Denzel Ward a top-10 pick, but he’s a bit of a reach at No. 4. A team that sees Baker Mayfield as a long-term option at quarterback will probably try to leapfrog the Denver Broncos for this slot.
For the sake of the mock draft, we will stick with Ward at No. 4 but tag this pick as a trade-back selection.
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Ward would remain in his birth state, where he also played college football (Ohio State). For the 20-year-old, there’s an additional comfort level. Nonetheless, the Browns need his man-coverage skills.
The team recently acquired defensive back Damarious Randall, but he’s going to play safety, per Akron Beacon Journal reporter Nate Ulrich. On Thursday, the front office traded Jason McCourty, who started primarily at cornerback in the previous campaign, to the New England Patriots, per Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot.
Ward fills a need, and he’s the top cornerback on most draft boards. If Cleveland can’t move back a few spots, he would not be a terrible choice at No. 4.
Indianapolis Colts Select DE Bradley Chubb at No. 6
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The Colts don’t need a quarterback and thus decided to trade back to the No. 6 spot, which makes sense considering general manager Chris Ballard will have quality options and more draft ammunition to revamp the roster.
After establishing the quarterback position, it’s important to protect Andrew Luck or focus on pursuing the opponent’s passer. As teams trade up in order to acquire signal-callers, other premium position players drop a spot or two in the draft order. North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb will go to Indianapolis at No. 6.
Before free agency, several mock drafts projected Chubb to the Colts at No. 3. Nonetheless, three quarterbacks will probably hear their names called within the first five selections. Considering the buzz around running back Saquon Barkley, the Colts should see Chubb and offensive guard Quenton Nelson on the board.
There’s a strong case for Nelson in this spot since the team hasn’t re-signed guard Jack Mewhort. Nonetheless, the Colts must bolster their pass rush because of the two mobile signal-callers within the AFC South. Someone has to chase down Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota.