2018 Mock Rookie Draft - Version V
John Holler - 4/25/2018
OVERVIEW: In all of our mock draft incarnations, we have had the New York Giants taking a quarterback with the second pick to groom as a replacement for Eli Manning. But, running back Saquon Barkley is simply too good to pass up as the Giants look to upgrade their offense immediately. As a result, our final mock draft sees a significant shuffling at the top.
1. Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Browns have bypassed taking quarterbacks when they had the chance to take some and missed out on some pretty good ones. However, with two of the top four picks, it seemed like QB could be a pick made with the first selection or the fourth. The Jets trade changed all that. With both the Giants and Jets in the front-end market to draft a QB or have the Giants trade out for a draft harvest, the Browns have to make this pick, whether they like Darnold, Josh Allen. There may be a push to take Allen because of his prototype size and arm, but Darnold is the safer pick.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Giants could just as easily take a quarterback here (Josh Allen?) because they’re unlikely to pick this high again for a long time. However, Barkley is the best player in this year’s draft class and if new head coach Pat Shurmur is convinced he can get a couple of productive seasons out of Eli Manning, having the No. 2 pick in the draft sitting on the bench won’t do the G-Men any good. Barkley has graded off the charts and, while this is high to take a running back given that some very good ones will be available on the final two days of the draft, he is simply too good to pass up and can be the cornerstone of the Giants offense – while Manning is still there and after he’s gone.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The Jets haven’t had an impact quarterback in years and they didn’t give up three second-round picks over the next two seasons to move up three spots to take Bradley Chubb or Saquon Barkley – it’s simply too steep a price to pay for any position other than quarterback. The team signed Teddy Bridgewater and re-signed Josh McCown, but both are only in on one-year deals. If I was making this pick, it would be Josh Allen of Wyoming or Josh Rosen of UCLA, but there is a lot of steam in Mayfield’s direction, especially as it pertains to the Jets.
4. Cleveland (from Houston) – Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State. The Browns wouldn’t mind to see the QB feeding frenzy they started with Sam Darnold at No. 1 continue with the Giants and Jets, so that RB Saquon Barkley will still be available to them at this spot. But, if he’s not, Chubb is a really nice consolation prize. The best edge rusher in this year’s draft, paired up with last year’s No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, suddenly the Browns have one of the best pass rush tandems in the league and their long nightmare of losing games (31 of the last 32 over the past two seasons), could finally be taking a legitimate step to ending.
5. PROPOSED TRADE: Buffalo (from Denver) – Josh Allen QB, Wyoming. The Broncos might use this pick themselves, especially if Allen is still on the board, but being add a couple of first-round picks and additional future compensation makes this a tough decision. Buffalo has struggled at quarterback since Jim Kelly rode off into the sunset and have tried to cobble together a string of QBs ever since. Allen has his detractors – his low completion percentage is hard to justify or dismiss – but he has all the intangibles that players like Ben Roethlisberger. With A.J. McCarron holding the spot for the short-term, the Bills pay heavy for it, but finally get a QB than fan base can build dreams of the future around.
6. Indianapolis (from N.Y. Jets) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Up until this final incarnation of our mock draft, we had Bradley Chubb, who we envisioned the Colts would have taken with the third pick, falling to this spot. With Chubb now gone at No. 6, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see the Colts trade down again. If they don’t, the need to address their defensive deficiencies. Indy’s defense has been given the unflattering tag of being "soft" for some time and need more playmakers who can blow up plays and consistently get the Colts off the field. Smith is a fast-rising prospect who can make plays to the sidelines and will add a piece to the Colts’ defensive puzzle…if they stay in this spot.
7. Tampa Bay – Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Bucs have a lot of options here, including cornerback (where age and poor play have been the buzz words) and offensive line. If I was drafting here, I would take Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, whose skill can’t be denied every time he took the field for Nick Saban. However, the Bucs have become increasingly locked in with James in the minds of many around the league, much in the same was Dontari Poe was draft-married to the Chiefs a few years back. This wouldn’t be my pick – no disrespect to James – but it seems like a no-brainer considering the momentum of James-to-Raymond James that seems to be happening.
8. Chicago – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Wide receiver was the first option here until the Bears signed a mega-deal with Allen Robinson, taking that off the table for a first-round pick this high. This is high to take a guard, but Nelson has the ability to be a Steve Hutchinson/Alan Faneca type that holds down the spot for a decade at a high level – something needed given Chicago’s investment in Mitch Trubisky. It doesn’t hurt that Chicago hired Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, which will allow Nelson to hit the ground running.
9. San Francisco – Minkah Fitzpatrick S/CB, Alabama. The signing of Richard Sherman went a long way to shoring up a weak cornerback group. Now the 49ers look to move the Legion of Boom 2.0 down south with the signing of a player I’m convinced is going to be viewed as a steal of the draft. Fitzpatrick dominated in the SEC – no small feat – and consistently made plays from sideline to sideline. He has the speed and cover ability to be a starting cornerback in the NFL, but his skill set at safety could make him a Pro Bowl-caliber player for years to come.
10. Oakland – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The Raiders have some defensive talent, but to compete in the AFC West they’re going to need more. This could come in the form of a cornerback like Denzel Ward or a big nosetackle like Vita Vea. The Raiders have made several mid- to low-level free agent acquisitions, but Edmunds is a prototype NFL linebacker – the kind an old-school coach like Jon Gruden would drool over. If Roquan Smith is still on the board, he’s the guy here, but with him gone, the Raiders take the next best thing.
11. Miami – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. I should preface this pick by saying I don’t expect Rosen to last until pick No. 11 or Miami to select him here. Somebody is likely to trade up a handful of spots to land him, but he has become the odd-man out in this QB draft equation – despite being viewed by many scouts as the most immediately NFL ready. This shouldn’t be viewed as an indictment of Ryan Tannehill, but, if Miami was to make this selection, it would open the door for a trade at some point after the 2018 season, when the "out clause" of his contract kicks in. With the Jets and Bills making big moves at QB, the Dolphins may not be far behind – making a point of taking a quality QB off the board before the Patriots can land a replacement to groom behind Tom Brady.
12. PROPOSED TRADE: Denver (from Buffalo via Cincinnati) – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. QB Lamar Jackson is a viable option here, because Case Keenum is only under a two-year deal, but the Broncos have invested too much time and money in addressing quarterback in the post-Peyton Manning era. The trade of Aqib Talib has opened up a hole that needs filling and being able to trade down, add an additional draft pick and be able to land the best pure cornerback on the board is something that will have the Broncos patting themselves on the back and claiming they’re the smartest guys in the room.
13. Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Redskins had one of the worst run defenses the last two seasons and it was one of the primary reasons why Washington missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Vea is arguably the best pure nosetackle to come out of the college game since Dontari Poe and he could immediately provide the run-stuffing big man in the middle that has been so sorely lacking in Washington the last couple of years.
14. Green Bay – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. It wouldn’t come as any surprise if the Packers took a pass rushing defensive end like Marcus Davenport from Texas-San Antonio, but the one nagging hint that remains in our minds is that the Packers knew they had an issue at cornerback and offered a big-money offer sheet to Kyle Fuller of the Bears – expecting that Chicago wouldn’t match. They did. Green Bay made it clear that they wanted to address a need at cornerback and simply reuniting with former Packer Tramon Williams isn’t enough to address this glaring need. Alexander is a playmaker who will likely be a Day 1 starter with a ton of upside to him.
15. Arizona – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Jackson gets very different evaluations from scouts, but the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford with the hope he can stay healthy, but not the expectation. The NFL is changing in the way it uses quarterbacks and mobile QBs who can extend plays with their feet or use their legs as a weapon are becoming more of the norm than it may appear. The position is undergoing a metamorphosis and Jackson could be one of those young players who leads the charge. Ideally, he sits and learns for a year – or until Bradford’s aging, brittle body breaks down.
16. Baltimore – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Ravens have needs at wide receiver and tight end, but if they’re going to get the most out of the offense they have, they need to solidify the offensive line. Ronnie Stanley is a solid left tackle, but McGlinchey would be an immediate upgrade on the right side with the flexibility to play multiple positions. After losing center Ryan Jensen to free agency, an interior lineman could be the call here, but it seems clear that the Ravens need to upgrade their offense in a significant way and such building processes typically start up front.
17. L.A. Chargers – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The Chargers have needs on both sides of the line, but they have a killer tandem with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside and Payne could be the run-stopping man in the middle that helps make the Chargers defensive front dominant – coming off a year in which they had the worst run defense in the league. Offensive line could be an option here, but there are times when a team is only one player away from having a dominating defensive front and Payne has the skill set to be a three-down interior lineman between Bosa and Ingram and could make the Chargers a sleeper pick in the AFC West.
18. Seattle – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The secondary is suddenly a huge question mark with Kam Chancellor’s career in doubt after a devastating neck injury and the release of Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. Jackson is a big, rangy cornerback who fits the mold of the type of cornerback Pete Carroll and his staff have consistently developed and there is a lot more pressing need now to reclaim the secondary dominance in what is going to be the post-Legion of Boom era. Defensive line could be a distinct possibility here, but the secondary needs a complete overhaul and it starts with Jackson.
19. Dallas – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Cowboys opted to move on from Dez Bryant and the Cowboys and his giant contract and the timing couldn’t be better to find a replacement for Bryant’s skill and swagger. Ridley is a talented player who has the ability to blow the top off a defense and could be in line the be the next big thing at wide receiver in the long-term and, in the short-term, serve as a strong young complement to Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns.
20. Detroit – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Ziggy Ansah got franchised and signed his franchise tender, so the need for an edge rusher takes a bit of a back seat. But, one of Detroit’s biggest failings has been to adequately replace Ndamukong Suh, who dominated in the middle of the Lions defense for years. Detroit bridged the gap with Haloti Ngata, but he left for Philadelphia via free agency. Bryan is a fast-riser as a disruptor in the middle and his presence will help a Lions run defense. The first job of new head coach Matt Patricia is to fix a defense that has been middle-of-the-road at best for some time and getting a young foundation piece like Bryan would help that effort considerably.
21. Cincinnati (from Buffalo) – James Daniels, C/G, Iowa. Centers don’t usually go in the first round, but Daniels is an exceptional athlete who can play center or either guard position if needed. His versatility gives the Bengals flexibility to play him at all three interior line positions. But, with the loss of Russell Bodine in free agency, there is an immediate need and Price has the strength, toughness and durability to be a fixture at center for the next decade.
22. PROPOSED TRADE: Denver (from Buffalo via Kansas City) – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. The Broncos have a long history of playmaking tight ends, but the last couple of seasons, it has been a desolate spot in the offense – made worse by losing 2017 starter Virgil Green. New starting QB Case Keenum used tight ends a lot last season in Minnesota and routinely exploited matchups that tight ends can create down the seam. The hope is that Jake Butt, who missed the entire 2017 season due to injury, will be back at 100 percent, but, even if he is, Goedert is a strong pick that can help diversify the Broncos offense. Running back is a definite possibility here, but there is talent deeper into the draft at that position than there is at tight end.
23. New England (from L.A. Rams) – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The Patriots could easily look at offensive tackle here to replace Nate Solder, but they also have the 31st pick in the draft and there will still be come good tackles on the board. The Patriots have always had a strong stable of linebackers, but age, injuries and free agency has depleted the depth at the position. Vander Esch plays with a lot of intensity and has the ability to blow up plays on the inside – something the Patriots need to keep their stranglehold on the top of the AFC East.
24. Carolina – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida – Cornerback remains a primary need position for obvious reasons. The team has never replaced Josh Norman when he left via free agency. Then they lost Daryl Worley in free agency in March. They hoped to fill this need through free agency and agreed to a contract with Bashaud Breeland of the Redskins. However, when he showed up in Carolina, he had a giant gash in his foot (non-football related) and he failed the Panthers’ physical. If Carolina is going to get back to the top of the division, which will mean beating Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston, improvement in the secondary is a must. Hughes is viewed as having as much upside as any cornerback in the draft and could be just what the Panthers need to reclaim the top spot in the NFC South.
25. Tennessee – Harold Landry, LB, Boston College. The Titans play a physical style on both sides of the ball, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to see them make a move on the offensive line or at wide receiver. However, the strength of the Titans is their defense and they need a young infusion of talent. They got good production from Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan on the outside last year, but both are entering the final year of their contracts and getting a young replacement learning on the job is going to be a priority and Landry is becoming much more of a value pick this deep into the first round.
26. Atlanta – Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio. Dan Quinn has tried to build a Seattle defense in the Dirty South and has done a decent job of transforming one of the league’s worst defenses into a middle-of-the-pack group with some solid upside. The Falcons clearly seem to want to change things up along the defensive front because they lost two of their D-line starters in free agency – Dontari Poe and Adrian Claiborne. Defensive tackle or defensive end are both priorities, but Davenport is a value pick at this point (he could go as high as Green Bay at No. 14) because he has the ability to create a lot of pressure on the edge and could finally get Quinn closer to what was envisioned when he was hired to revamp Atlanta’s defense.
27. New Orleans – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. The New Orleans offense hasn’t been the same since Jimmy Graham was traded. The Saints thought Coby Fleener could come close to filling that void, but were tragically off-base in that assessment. In a year where there isn’t a dearth of top-end talent at the tight end position, Hurst has the potential to be an elite playmaker and could return a missing dimension to a New Orleans offense that was at its best when it had Graham stretching the seam and opening things up for other players. Given the new-look explosiveness from their running backs, having a guy who can take defenders deep down the middle could be the key to a deep playoff run.
28. Pittsburgh – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama – Evans played all over the field for ‘Bama and is a playmaker wherever he lines up – both on the inside and the outside. The Steelers tend to build from within and typically invest their resources in players they drafted and developed. The loss of Ryan Shazier can’t be underestimated for a team that doesn’t often go on the open market to overspend for elite player. His loss – walking is his current priority, not playing NFL football – is going to leave a big hole that needs filling. Evans could make a near-immediate impact in this system and, while he will have enormous shoes to fill, he could help keep the middle of the Pittsburgh defense a strength rather than a weakness. His versatility is key and the free agent signing of Jon Bostic doesn’t eliminate the need.
29. Jacksonville – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The Jaguars have addressed three of their biggest needs by re-signing QB Blake Bortles, signing Pro Bowl guard Andrew Norwell and filling their tight end need with both Niles Paul and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. They parted ways with both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns and, while they signed Donte Moncrief, replacing the Two Allens can’t be done by one guy alone. Moore is a Golden Tate clone who specializes in yards after the catch and, with defenses forced to pack in the box to stop Leonard Fournette, Moore could be a dangerous weapon in this offense.
30. Minnesota – Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Vikings revamped its offensive line last year with the free agent signings of tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and double down this offseason by investing an unprecedented contract to QB Kirk Cousins. With the retirement of Joe Berger and the free agent loss of versatile swingman Jeremiah Sirles, the Vikings needed to fill that void. They have options here. They could go with guards Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn, tackles Kolton Miller or Tyrell Crosby or versatile interior linemen Billy Price or Frank Ragnow and nobody would raise an eyebrow. But, Williams was viewed as a top 10 type pick before missing seven games last season due to injury. If you watch his 2016 tape, you see a dominating player who was at left tackle. He could go to right tackle and move Remmers inside or he play guard to start and push Remmers back to right tackle. G.M. Rick Spielman loves that type of versatility and it’s versatility at the highest level.
31. New England – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. The Patriots already used a pick to fill a need at linebacker and now they address one of their most pressing needs at left tackle to replace Nate Solder, who signed with the Giants. Some scouts view Miller at the best left tackle prospect in the draft, so to get him at this point is seen as almost a gift for a franchise that everyone else in the AFC has been waiting to see take a step backward. The addition of Miller will help to continue to put off that eventuality.
32. Philadelphia – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. The Eagles don’t have many holes, but one area they need to shore up is on the offensive line. Stefen Wisniewski did a decent job playing at left guard last season, but he could easily be upgraded. Hernandez is one of the best run-blocking guards to come out of the college game in some time and he has the potential to provide an immediate upgrade to that position, something that will be needed if they want to keep quarterback Carson Wentz healthy and continuing to ascend to one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
1. Cleveland –Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon. With the retirement of Joe Thomas, a long-term replacement is needed and the gigantic, aggressive Crosby is a good place to start for a team with a new QB and franchise running back.
2. N.Y. Giants – Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas. The Giants both upgraded their running game by selecting Saquon Barkley with the second pick of the draft and committed to Eli Manning for at least the next couple of years. Now they need to improve the O-line in front of both of them.
3. Cleveland (from Houston) – Darrius Guice, RB, LSU. The Browns got a QB and the draft’s best edge rusher in the first round, now they draft the best running back not named Saquon Barkley.
4. Indianapolis – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia. The Colts have been satisfied to go with Frank Gore for longer than many thought they would or should. Michel give them a different dynamic, something that will be needed to provide balance to the offense.
5. Indianapolis (from N.Y. Jets) – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado, LB. The Colts have been accused of having a soft defense for a long time. Combining playmakers like Bradley Chubb on the front end of the defense and Oliver on the back end, suddenly their defense looks a lot better.
6. Tampa Bay – Ronald Jones II, RB, USC. The Buccaneers have officially given up on Doug Martin and they have done nothing in free agency to replace him. Jones can immediately compete for a starting job and could be landing in an ideal spot for his skill set.
7. Chicago – Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia. The Bears linebackers were largely disappointing last year, which is why Pernell McPhee and Willie Young were released after the season. Carter gives the Bears an active young linebacker that will fill the void in this need area.
8. Denver – Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt. The Broncos drafted Garrett Bolles last year to hold down the left tackle position for years and now add a right tackle to give the offense a pair of young bookends to build an offense around.
9. Oakland – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU. The Raiders lost both of their starting corners from the end of last season and, while they’ve added bodies to compete, Jackson has the talent to enter training camp on the first line of the depth chart.
10. Miami – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. He was viewed as a first-round pick until an irregular heartbeat got him sent home from the Combine. It has been deemed that it was nothing serious and, while it hurt his draft stock, he becomes a value at this point.
11. New England (from San Francisco) – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. I don’t consider Rudolph a second round prospect, but then again, the same is true for Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, who were drafted to high. The Patriots need a young backup plan for Tom Brady and if they want to do it this year, it may have to be Rudolph.
12. Washington – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. The Redskins hoped that Terrelle Pryor would help fill the void left by the departure of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Paul Richardson is a help, but Kirk can add another weapon for Alex Smith to exploit.
13. Green Bay – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia. The Packers have got a decent job out of Lane Taylor, but aging Jahri Evans signed a one-year deal and wasn’t re-signed. The Packers tend to fill needs through the draft and Wynn could step into the starting lineup Day 1 and help protect Aaron Rodgers and attempt to get an anemic run game untracked.
14. Cincinnati – Justin Reid, S, Stanford. Safety probably isn’t their most pressing need, but Reid has first-round talent and for him still to be on the board to help out the Bengals secondary, it will be hard to pass him up here.
15. Arizona – D.J. Chark, WR, LSU. Few wide receivers have been faster risers over the last couple of months than Chark. Larry Fitzgerald is likely in his last season, John Brown and Jaron Brown both left via free agency and help is needed. Chark might step directly into a starting spot.
16. L.A. Chargers – Geron Christian, OT, Louisville. The Chargers offensive line has been a mess for some time and has been in dire need of upgrading. Free agent center Mike Pouncey helps the interior line. Christian could step in immediately to replacing an aging Russell Okung or be used as a swingman who eventually replaces him.
17. Indianapolis (from N.Y. Jets via Seattle) – Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State. The Colts have had their struggles on the offensive line for a while now and the position versatility Price brings to play all three interior line positions is a good value this deep into the draft.
18. Dallas – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. The Cowboys were lauded as having the best offensive line in the league a couple of years ago, but significant injuries have taken a toll and, at a minimum, depth is needed. If you looked solely at game tape, Brown would be a first-round lock. But, after a dismal Combine performance, he drops all the way to here.
19. Detroit – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia. It isn’t a stretch to say that the Lions haven’t had a legitimate running back since Barry Sanders. It has been a revolving door for years. Chubb was the power back in two-back system and has a lot of tread on the tires and could become Matthew Stafford’s best friend if he can keep defenses honest up the middle.
20. Baltimore – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. This was a need before the Ravens traded out Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace for Michael Crabtree and John Brown. A matchup nightmare with his size and strength, he scored 31 touchdowns the last three years and could be in the lineup immediately.
21. Buffalo – Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford. The Bills never adequately replaced Marcell Dareus when he was traded. Kyle Williams has come back for one more year and Star Lotulelei came over in free agency, but depth is needed here and Phillips can provide an immediate boost and push for playing time right away..
22. Kansas City – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn. The Chiefs have been gutted at cornerback, trading Marcus Peters, cutting Darrelle Revis and losing Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines to free agency. They’re short on bodies and Davis is a solid value pick at this spot.
23. Carolina – Sam Hubbard, OLB/DE, Ohio State. Julius Peppers is back for a final season, but the Panthers need an edge rusher who can make a difference on passing downs. Hubbard provides versatility and excellent pass rush skills, both of which can be developed in Carolina.
24. Buffalo (from L.A. Rams) – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis. Wide receiver was a mid-level need already before losing Jordan Matthews and Deonte Thompson in free agency. They took Zay Jones in the first round last year, but young depth is needed and Miller could work his way on the field sooner than later in this offense.
25. Tennessee – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. The wide receivers haven’t excelled and Washington was amazingly productive at OSU – approximately 200 catches 4,000 yards and 33 TDs the last three years. Who doesn’t want a guy like that to add to the mix?
26. Atlanta – Braden Smith, G, Auburn. Guard was viewed as a top offseason priority and all the Falcons have done is pick up Vikings/49ers castoff Brandon Fusco. Smith should be able to compete for (and win) a starting job in training camp and could be a starter here for years to come.
27. San Francisco (from New Orleans) – Austin Corbett, G/C, Nevada. The 49ers had two of their starting interior linemen and replaced them with one (center Weston Richburg). Corbett can be plugged in at right guard and provides the position flexibility to take up what would have been two rosters spots on the 53-man roster in one package.
28. Pittsburgh – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. The Steelers never seem to have a flight from quality when it comes to drafting players. The Steelers parted with Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden and replaced them with veteran Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe. Harrison is a player who should be off the board by this point and you don’t slip a guy past the Steelers like that.
29. Jacksonville – Martellus Rankin, OT, Mississippi State. The Jaguars invested in Cam Robinson to be their left tackle for the next decade and have some versatility with Rankin, who could start his career at guard – a weakness in a run-heavy offense – and eventually give the Jags another bookend at right tackle.
30. Minnesota – Uchenna Nwosu, OLB/DE, USC. Mike Zimmer has earned a reputation of developing players that fit his scheme. At USC, he was effectively a stand up defensive end and, while his drops into coverage are going to need to be improved, he can be used in sub-packages to start and be groomed to be an eventual replacement for Anthony Barr, who is likely going to command too much money in free agency at the end of the season.
31. New England – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t think the Patriots would be in the market for a tight end, but no team has used receiving tight ends better than New England and remember that they drafted Aaron Hernandez the same year the drafted Rob Gronkowski. If they see talent in him, they take him without blinking.
32. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) – Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama. The Browns hit the clock yet again and have been filling a lot of holes, primarily on offense. They have added a lot of bodies for the secondary in free agency, but none of them have the pure speed Averett brings to the table. He’s NFL-ready to play right corner and, given the receivers in the AFC North, his speed will be needed.
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