Quarterback Lamar Jackson Hears His Name Called
Emphasis on quarterback. Jackson is one of the most polarizing prospects in the pool, and could end up in any number of places. He’s a proven talent, and an extraordinary athlete. Despite his slight frame and shaky accuracy, Jackson has impressed enough to be a first-round selection. Arizona would be a solid landing spot at 15, and the Saints or Patriots will be highly-intrigued if he falls a bit.
2018 Playoff Teams Stand Pat
The only possible exception to this prediction is the Bills (who ended their lengthy playoff drought thanks to Andy Dalton, which barely counts). The way that the draft is looking to shape up, teams picking at the back-end of the first round are sitting pretty. A major reason being that most of the top teams from last year don’t need a quarterback, and QB's will be flying off the board early.
While Cleveland, Buffalo, and both New York teams scramble to find their next signal caller, the Eagles, Falcons and Panthers will sit idly by as they wait to scoop up a big name. Even teams that are in search of potential successors (Patriots, Saints, and Steelers) are afforded the opportunity to watch everything play out, and can snag Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph at the end of Day 1. No reason for the elite to move up, there will be plenty of leftovers when it’s their turn on the clock.
More Tight Ends Drafted Than Running Backs
The running back position is a bit of a crap-shoot at this point. Saquon Barkley appears to be a lock for the top-5, but it gets murky after that. Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, and Ronald Jones (in any order) make up the next tier of ball carries – each possessing their own particular warts. It’s possible that all three have to wait until Friday to hear their name called.
On the other hand, a bundle of tight ends are picking up some serious steam. Between South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert, South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, and Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, the tight end spot is looking stacked. All three are first round talents, and with the league in dire need of versatile, vertical passing threats, we could see the position in high demand.
A Team Trades Into Top-10 For A QB
The potential for trades complicates the mock draft process. It’s nearly impossible to have a perfect mock, because there are inevitable moves to be made across the board. With teams just outside of the top-10 in deseperate need of a franchise quarterback, expect an early shake-up on Thursday night.
The Bills, Dolphins and Cardinals appear to be the three likeliest movers. Buffalo has a treasure trove of assets – including two first-round picks. Although Miami recently inked Ryan Tannehill to a long-term extension, the former Texas A&M receiver is coming off major surgery and has been inconsistent throughout his career. Carson Palmer’s retirement signaled a new era in Arizona, and even with Sam Bradford in town, it would behoove the Cardinals to look towards the future.
Another sneaky team that could be in play is the Chargers. There’s a reasonable chance that the 36-year-old Philip Rivers calls it quits before the team moves into their new stadium, and LA will be in dire need of a true star that can lead the franchise.
Baker Mayfield Goes No. 1
In peak-Cleveland fashion, the Browns surprise everybody by spending the first overall pick on the most enigmatic player in the draft, who is arguably the fourth best quarterback in the field. Only time will tell if Mayfield can put an end to the infamous “QB Jersey”. One thing’s for certain, given Mayfield’s rambunctious personality and Cleveland’s propensity for being newsworthy (for better or worse -- mostly worse), it will be an incredibly entertaining marriage.
Sources: Jeremy Brevard/GETTY Images, Mark J. Rebilas/GETTY Images, Pool Photo/GETTY Images, Bleacher Report