1. Chicago Bears – Arden Key (DE/OLB/LSU)
The Bears had a terrible draft in 2017, which included moving up to take Mitchell Trubisky after already handing a ton of money to Mike Glennon, making a huge reach for Adam Shaheen in the second round and giving up their third rounder to pick Trubisky. Chicago has holes all across their roster and unless everyone steps up, the Bears are going to have a high pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Since quarterback won’t be an option, the Bears can target the best overall player and at the moment it is Key, a player who would fill the biggest need for Chicago on defense. The Bears took Leonard Floyd in 2016, but Mitch Unrein lines up across from him. Unrein offers nothing as a pass rusher and is only adequate against the run.
Key still needs to improve as a run stuffer, but he comes with a rare blend of elite athleticism and excels at rushing the quarterback.
2. New York Jets – Sam Darnold (QB/USC)
Quarterback was one of the Jets biggest needs this offseason, but this was a bad year to be desperate for quarterback help. Instead, they opted to sign Josh McCown as a stop-gap, with hopes of bringing in one of the talented quarterbacks from this class.
Darnold’s heroics in the Rose Bowl made him the talk of the combine despite not being eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. He is young, can make all of the throws and has very good pocket awareness, but his accuracy and footwork needs to improve this season.
3. Los Angeles Rams – Christian Kirk (WR/Texas A&M)
I have seen some mock where the Rams select a quarterback, but I don’t think they give up on Jared Goff so quickly, even if there is a new regime in town. Los Angeles gave up a king’s ransom to take Goff and he has only made a handful of starts. Even in today’s impatient NFL landscape, it’s hard to imagine the Rams give up so quickly on someone that they have invested so much in.
Instead, the Rams should look at bringing in more weapons for him. Cooper Kupp was drafted in the third round this year, but he has limited upside and is better as a complimentary wideout, not a team’s top target.
4. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen (QB/UCLA)
The post-Rex Ryan Bills don’t seem committed to Tyrod Taylor and if they let him go next spring, they will have to select a quarterback with one of their two first round picks.
Rosen is talented, but his decision making needs to vastly improve this season. Some teams may shy away from him as well after speaking his mind about paying college football players.
5. San Francisco 49ers – Josh Allen (QB/Wyoming)
Much like the Jets, San Francisco entered the offseason with a glaring need at quarterback but failed to make a long-term answer to the position, signing Brian Hoyer to be their filler.
Allen may have the best arm strength in this draft class, but he has a tendency to become a bit of a gunslinger at times, partially due to the lack of talent his team has a wide receiver.
6. Minnesota Vikings – Jarrett Stidham (QB/Auburn)
The quarterback situation in Minnesota is definitely a story to watch this year. Minnesota declined Teddy Bridgewater’s fifth-year option, which makes sense given the gruesome injury he suffered last season along with the fact that those options become fully guaranteed for injury. Sam Bradford is also a free agent after this season.
Stidham will play his first season in Auburn after transferring out of Baylor last year, spending 2016 in community college.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Sam Hubbard (DE/Ohio State)
Joey Bosa was solid for San Diego last year, but they still need a replacement for Corey Liuget, who stopped caring once he signed his massive extension in 2015.
8. Cincinnati Bengals – Mike McGlinchey (OT/Notre Dame)
Cincinnati has some dangerous playmakers on offense, but they’re going to have a hard being consistent if they can’t protect Andy Dalton. McGlinchey would have been the top tackle taken this year had he not decided to return to school.
9. New Orleans Saints – Malik Jefferson (LB/Texas)
The Saints are perpetually in need of help on defense. Craig Robertson is now slated to be their inside linebacker and is the new weak leak for the Saints. A new field general will be sough after.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Mitch Hyatt (OT/Clemson)
In a make-or-break year for Blake Bortles, quarterback is in play, but no matter who is taking the snaps for the Jaguars, their success is going to be limited if they don’t improve on the blind side, where Branden Albert is the current starter.
11. Arizona Cardinals – Calvin Ridley (WR/Alabama)
In 2015, the Cardinals had one of the best groups of wideouts in the NFL. Last year, however, almost everything that could go wrong did and now receiver is one of the team’s biggest needs. With Larry Fitzgerald aging, the Cardinals need to find a new No. 1 pass catcher.
12. Baltimore Ravens – Saquon Barkley (RB/Penn State)
Terrance West currently sits atop the Ravens depth chart at running back. Danny Woodhead is coming back from a torn ACL and Kenneth Dixon is serving a four game suspension. The Ravens need to find a long-term solution to their running back woes.
13. Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB/Alabama)
Washington showed that they will go for the best player available with Jay Gruden making decisions. At this juncture it is Fitzpatrick, who would be a significant upgrade over Bashaud Breeland, who stuggled last season.
14. Cleveland Browns – Derrius Guice (RB/LSU)
Cleveland made some strides this offseason, but with as many holes as the Browns had, it’s impossible to fill them all in one offseason.
Guice hasn’t received a significant workload as Leonard Fournette’s backup, but he has made the most out of every opportunity given to him.
15. Carolina Panthers – Martinas Rankin (OT/Mississippi State)
Carolina doesn’t have many holes on their roster, but their are still in a bad situation at tackle. Rankin would likely start as the right tackle before sliding to the left if Matt Kalil continues to struggle.
16. Detroit Lions – Christian Wilkins (DT/Clemson)
Detroit for some reason ignored defensive tackle in the draft last month, despite it being one of the team’s most significant needs. They can’t continue to ignore the position, especially with Haloti Ngata’s rapid decline.
17. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (G/Notre Dame)
The Colts offensive line played better last year, but the right side is still struggling. Denzelle Good needs to be replaced.
18. Miami Dolphins – Cameron Smith (LB/USC)
The Dolphins weak link is linebacker, where they signed a struggling Lawrence Timmons this offseason and employ Koa Misi, whose production fell off of a cliff in 2016.
19. Cleveland Browns – Adonis Alexander (CB/Virginia Tech)
With Joe Haden struggling over the past two seasons, he could become a cap casualty if he doesn’t return to form in 2017. If he is gone, the Browns will need to find a new cornerback.
20. Dallas Cowboys – Derek Nnadi (DT/Florida State)
Dallas signed Stephen Paea, but only on a one-year deal. The Cowboys got an edge rusher in Taco Charlton last month, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them continue to build through the trenches.
21. Denver Broncos – Tyquan Lewis (DE/Ohio State)
Denver finds a long-term solution at right end, where Zach Kerr has been inconsistent to say the least.
22. Atlanta Falcons – Harold Landry (DE/OLB/Boston College)
The Falcons have few needs, but don’t be surprised to see them double-dip at edge rusher one year after selecting Takkarist McKinley. Landry could line up at outside linebacker to add another edge rusher on passing downs.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – James Washington (WR/Oklahoma State)
Philadelphia signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason, but Jeffery was added on a one-year deal and Smith, who has struggled in recent years, can be cut after one year with little penalty. On paper, it looks like the Eagles have fixed their wide receiver woes, but the reality is that it’s just a one-year fix.
24. Buffalo Bills – Antonio Callaway (WR/Florida)
Buffalo declined Sammy Watkins’ fifth-year option and if he skips town, they are in bad shape because there have nothing to offer at wide receiver aside from him. Even if he stays, the Bills need to add another wideout.
25. New York Giants – Connor Williams (OT/Texas)
At some point, the Giants are going to have to address the fact that Ereck Flowers is an absolute abomination at left tackle.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bradley Chubb (DE/North Carolina State)
The Steelers signed Tyson Alualu this offseason, but he is terrible and nothing more than a short-term solution.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Martez Ivey (G/OT/Florida)
Seattle used an early pick on Ethan Pocic, but practically ignored the offensive line for the rest of the draft last month. Ivey’s ability to play multiple positions will come in handy for Seattle.
28. Oakland Raiders – Marcell Frazier (DE/OLB/Missouri)
The Raiders have used early picks in the past few drafts to bolster their secondary, but their defensive line is still weak aside from Khalil Mack. Here is another edge rusher who can take pressure off of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
29. Tennessee Titans – Derwin James (S/Florida State)
Kevin Byard wasn’t bad as a rookie, but if James falls to here, it would be a no-brainer for the Titans to take him.
30. Green Bay Packers – Tavarus McFadden (CB/Florida State)
The Packers added Kevin King with their top draft pick, but their secondary still needs work.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bo Scarbrough (RB/Alabama)
The Buccaneers have shown a readiness to move on from Doug Martin, but surprisingly did little this offseason to replace him. Perhaps they will find his heir next season.
32. New England Patriots – Jordan Whitehead (S/Pittsburgh)
Patrick Chung has taken a big step back while Duron Harmon is average at best.