Hard as it is to believe, we’re just one week away from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell strolling onto the stage and announcing the latest set of future NFL stars. With draft boards mostly set, it’s silent running around the league as teams cross their T’s and dot their I’s as they get ready for a franchise-shaping three days in Arlington, Texas.
Taking into account everything from roster needs to injuries to free agent signings, here’s a look at how picks 1-32* in the first round could play out at AT&T Stadium on April 26.
1. Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Josh Allen chatter is just that, chatter. Darnold (above, right) remains the top-rated signal-caller on everybody’s board and the Browns finally land their quarterback of the future as a result.
2. New York Giants — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Giants’ brain trust doesn’t overthink things and grabs the player many consider to be the most talented in the draft. It’s a clear sign that the team is going to try and win now and picking a player that could torment their NFC East rival in their own stadium is just an added bonus.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis) — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Playing Allen won’t be a pressing issue given some of the players on the roster but if there’s one front office to fall in love with a strong-armed QB who has accuracy issues, it’s the Jets.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) — Bradley Chubb, DL, NC State
Paring Chubb with Myles Garrett is a dream scenario for a team that still must improve defensively if they want any hope of getting out of the AFC North basement. General manager John Dorsey will be hailed a hero if he can get a quarterback and the best defensive player in the 2018 draft.
5. Denver Broncos — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Lots of folks around the league have changed their tune about Mayfield (right) and the Broncos figure to be the ones that have no qualms about taking the Heisman winner and making him the eventual face of the franchise.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
With Josh Rosen still on the board, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Colts try to auction this pick off and pick up more assets given the state of their roster. If they stay put though, the selection of Nelson to protect Andrew Luck continues to make the most sense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
It’s no secret that the Bucs need to juice their pass rush given the quarterbacks they face twice a year in the division and Davenport has a chance to be a star at doing just that.
8. Chicago Bears — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Most of this draft for the Bears will focus on upgrading the talent around Mitchell Trubisky but the team will run up to the podium to select Edmunds, who is just scratching the surface of what he can do given how young and athletic the former Hokie star is.
9. San Francisco 49ers — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
With Reuben Foster’s status going forward in the air, the team will have no issues drafting Smith to be their guy in the middle of the defense. Not only can he cover sideline-to-sideline but he will check off the boxes off the field as well.
10. Oakland Raiders — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Don’t be shocked if the Raiders listen to offers, especially if Josh Rosen remains on the board. But if they stick it out here, Fitzpatrick (right) is just the kind of guy who can be a playmaker in the secondary and help improve Oakland’s dreadful defense.
11. Miami Dolphins — Vita Vea, DL, Washington
They’ll think about a quarterback in this spot but subbing in a younger, just as talented player at a lower salary in Ndamukong Suh’s old spot isn’t the worst of situations for the Dolphins to find themselves in.
12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati) — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Everybody will be penciling in Josh Rosen here but the Bills wind up zigging when everybody thinks they’re going to zag. McGlinchey will start right away on the right side before eventually taking over Cordy Glenn’s old spot.
13. Washington Redskins — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Washington has no qualms about Ward sliding a bit early in the draft as he’s a top-five talent who will be able to jump in right away. He’s super smooth in coverage but has a chance to be a top-notch guy opposite Josh Norman.
14. Green Bay Packers — Derwin James, DB, Florida State
New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needs more help at corner than safety but James is going to play a lot of snaps as a rookie and should move freely all over the Packers’ defense. He tremendous value at this spot and just the kind of locker room presence that Green Bay needs on this side of the ball too.
15. Arizona Cardinals — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Everybody will be discussing the “slide” that Rosen takes but he’s one of the best pure passers in this class and will have the Cardinals running to the podium to turn in their card. The young signal-caller will be able to learn the game from Sam Bradford and take over if he gets hurt this season.
16. Baltimore Ravens — Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk is never the name mentioned when people talk about the first wide receiver off the board but he’s a great fit in Baltimore as an early starter in the slot and somebody who won’t need long to get up to speed in the NFL. The team could move back and still be able to land the versatile Aggie but it certainly seems like GM Ozzie Newsome will make his last first-rounder count.