Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, it's time to take a look at our very first Mock Draft. Who will be available when the Eagles are on the clock with the 32nd selection? I'm going to take my first stab at guessing, based off what I THINK teams will do (not necessarily how I would select), and I'll let you pick the best option for the Eagles at No. 32. Let's take a crack at it!
1. Cleveland Browns - QB Sam Darnold (USC)
I'll be the first to say that the quarterbacks in this class are not the best overall players. In fact, I would argue that there are a handful of players who would rank higher than all of them on a stacked board. However, the Browns NEED to come out of this draft with a quarterback, and chances are that they won't fall in love with three of them. They can't risk waiting until the fourth pick to select their franchise quarterback. The Browns could very likely lose their guy if they try to get cute and wait. Last year, every first-round quarterback was selected by a team that traded up to take him. I'm going to guess that they like Darnold the most, and that's why he's the pick here.
2. New York Giants - RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
Listening to both Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman speak last week in Indianapolis, I walked away thinking there's absolutely a chance, and that it's even likely, that they pass on a succession plan for Eli Manning and instead decide to go with the best player on the board for them. While Gettleman has an affinity for linemen, he's made it a career of selecting linemen later in the draft for development (taking guard Quenton Nelson off the board for me). Instead, I think the Giants go with Barkley, who they believe will be a game-changer for their offense and give them a huge boost at the running back position.
3. Indianapolis Colts - DE Bradley Chubb (N.C. State)
The Colts could easily go with Quenton Nelson here, but I think they're best served adding to what has been an anemic pass rush. Chubb is one of the safest players in this draft. His combination of size, competitiveness, and technique make him a high-floor player off the edge, and he's best cast in Indy's new 4-3 scheme.
4. Cleveland Browns - DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Chubb is certainly one of the safest players in the draft, and Fitzpatrick is right there with him. Had the Colts not selected free safety Malik Hooker in the first round last year, I would have slotted the talented Alabama defender to them at No. 3. Here for the Browns, however, Fitzpatrick can start his career at corner and, if needed, slide inside to safety if that doesn't work out. Regardless, this kid has "quality NFL starter" written all over him. I think he'll be an impact player for years to come.
5. Denver Broncos - QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
In this scenario, I'm assuming that Denver does not get veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, so they are forced to get their man in the draft. The Broncos coached both Mayfield and Josh Allen in the Senior Bowl, but I'm going to go with Mayfield, who reportedly commanded the attention of the entire North squad when it took the practice field during the week in Mobile, Alabama. That charisma - along with his accuracy, elusiveness, and productivity - may be enough to allow John Elway to pull the trigger.
6. New York Jets - QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
The Jets desperately need to come away with their quarterback, and early reports pointed in the direction of Josh Allen, the big-armed passer from Wyoming. He's not a perfect prospect, but the junior is a great kid, he's smart, comes from a pro-style offense, and has all of the physical tools to develop into a top-flight NFL passer. This pick could very easily be Josh Rosen as well.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - EP Harold Landry (Boston College)
A year ago, this pick would have not raised any eyebrows. A month ago, some analysts would have called this a laughable "reach." The fact remains, however, that Landry is a top-shelf athlete off the edge in a pass rush group that lacks depth at the top. Tampa Bay needs help at defensive end, and if they wait until round two there may not be the kind of help that they need. Landry's production from two years ago gives me plenty of confidence moving forward after an injury-plagued senior season, and he reminded everyone on Sunday what kind of athlete he really is.
8. Chicago Bears - G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
The Bears reportedly declined to pick up the option on veteran guard Josh Sitton, and they hired Notre Dame's offensive line coach Harry Hiestand earlier this offseason. This is a marriage made in heaven, as Nelson steps in and brings attitude to a power run team and helps provide Mitchell Trubisky with a cleaner pocket for the foreseeable future. This is a great pick for first-year head coach Matt Nagy and the Bears.
9. San Francisco 49ers - LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a linebacker coach by trade, and they could really use a boost at the weakside linebacker spot next to last year's first-round pick Reuben Foster. Smith is an aggressive, athletic player with sideline-to-sideline speed who will greatly benefit from the disruptive defensive front already in place. This is a slam-dunk pick for the 49ers, a team many people feel is quickly on the rise.
10. Oakland Raiders - CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
Ward isn't the biggest corner, but he's a plus athlete with impressive instincts, a competitive streak, and the quickness to stay in the hip pocket of any receiver at every level of the field. The Raiders could really use a shot of youth and top-end talent at the cornerback spot, despite the addition of a first-round corner last year in Gareon Conley. His former teammate Ward gives them exactly that.
11. Miami Dolphins - QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
Miami was without Ryan Tannehill this season after an injury in the summer, and it may be time to look beyond him in the very near future. Rosen is a great fit in Miami, and he could be the guy to turn that team around. He's the cleanest quarterback prospect in this class on the field, and I very easily could have slotted him in at any of a number of positions in the top 10. Someone had to fall, however, and in this version of my mock draft I have him joining Adam Gase in South Beach.
12. Cincinnati Bengals - DT Da'Ron Payne (Alabama)
The Bengals could really use some more beef in the middle of that defensive line, and I think that Payne has as good a shot as any of these defensive tackles of going in the top 15 picks. A good kid with the natural strength, surprising athleticism, and extremely high motor to make plays from sideline to sideline, Cincinnati's love for SEC players continues with the addition of the Crimson Tide star.
13. Washington Redskins - S Derwin James (Florida State)
Washington clearly had a specific role in mind for former second-round pick Su'a Cravens as a safety-linebacker who could come downhill and lay a hit on ballcarriers in the flat, play in the slot when needed, and align close to the line of scrimmage in their subpackages. James provides them with that exact player, except to a much, much better degree. This would be a "bad news" pick for the rest of the NFC East.
14. Green Bay Packers - CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)
The Packers have selected a lot of defensive backs over the years, and the ones who have had the most success have been the ones with the most versatility. Alexander can line up inside or outside, and while he was bothered by an injury this past year as a junior, his sophomore tape is very, very good from 2016. I think he goes higher than a lot of people have him slotted right now, and he helps form a pairing with Kevin King to create one of the best young corner duos in the NFL.
15. Arizona Cardinals - OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
There will be plenty of attention paid to the defensive side of the ball with Steve Wilks taking over as head coach, but the Cardinals need a ton of help on offense. While the quarterback position certainly will be a focus, the offensive line was a major, major concern for this franchise in 2017. Enter McGlinchey, a polished tackle with the ability to play on either the right or left side and the combination of physical tools and off-field mentality that should keep him from being a bust. This is an easy pick for the Cardinals and should turn into a no-brainer.
16. Baltimore Ravens - WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
I know he's a bit older (he'll be a 23-year-old rookie). I know that the production wasn't great (135 catches and 12 touchdowns in two extended seasons). I know the Combine workout left a lot to be desired, but this kid is the top receiver in the draft. Every SEC defensive back I talked to thought it was ridiculous that anyone would question his ability after a couple of bad jumps, and I don't expect Ozzie Newsome, a former Alabama tight end who has selected Crimson Tide stars in three of the last six first rounds, to pass up on this kid, especially with such a need at the receiver position.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Having studied the Chargers early last fall, two areas on their defense stood out most to me as needing more help are right in the middle of that defense. Ideally, Los Angeles comes out of this first round with either a defensive tackle who can win at the point of attack or with a middle linebacker to play next to Jatavis Brown on the weak side. Here, I'm going to lean toward the rangy linebacker from Virginia Tech, who will just be a 19-year-old rookie and has upside for days.
18. Seattle Seahawks - DE Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio)
Many people view Davenport as being better coming from a two-point stance, but in Seattle he'll still have the ability to come off the edge in its aggressive defensive front. The Seahawks could use a little bit more teeth in that pass rush, especially if they have some more turnover in that front seven this year. Davenport makes sense from a physical standpoint.
19. Dallas Cowboys - DT Vita Vea (Washington)
The Cowboys haven't selected a defensive tackle before the third round since they took Russell Maryland with the first overall selection in 1991, so they're due for blue-chip interior disruptor. Vita Vea may not be the type of gap-shooting 3-technique that Rod Marinelli covets, but he fills a hole in the interior of a defense that desperately needs a run-stuffer inside. Vea has enough athletic ability to be a viable three-down player, and his motor will play well in Dallas as well.
20. Detroit Lions - G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
Most analysts would say that Wynn was the best player in January's Senior Bowl, and the three-year starter has the ability to be a force inside at guard - he played this past season at left tackle. A tough kid who does a great job running his feet on contact to drive defenders backwards, Wynn is low-key one of my favorite players to watch in this draft and should step right in as a day one starter in Detroit.
21. Buffalo Bills - C James Daniels (Iowa)
Veteran Eric Wood is, unfortunately, being forced to retire due to injury, leaving a giant hole in the middle of the Buffalo offense. They'd love to be able to add a quarterback here, but I don't think Lamar Jackson is a fit for what they're looking for on offense. Without the ability to trade up for a signal-caller, I'm going with the most athletic offensive lineman in this year's draft, James Daniels, who is similar to Jason Kelce in a lot of ways.
22. Buffalo Bills - DT Harrison Phillips (Stanford)
Buffalo boosts the other side of the trenches with the selection of Phillips, a well-put-together defensive tackle with a high motor, enough athleticism to make plays in pursuit, and a set of hands that can jar opponents on contact. The redshirt junior is eerily similar in a lot of ways to Kyle Williams, who has been a star for the Bills throughout his entire career.
23. Los Angeles Rams - CB Mike Hughes (UCF)
The Rams placed the franchise tag on Lamarcus Joyner, but how long will that keep him under wraps? With a number of expensive free agents set to hit the market in the next couple of years, keeping the versatile defensive back may prove difficult. Enter Hughes, who is more of an outside corner than he is a free safety, but like Joyner offers some versatility to play inside in their subpackages.
24. Carolina Panthers - WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
The Panthers desperately need some speed and versatility at the receiver position, and with Kirk they get both. He's not the burner who a player like DJ Chark is, but the junior can get vertical to make plays down the field and can also be dynamic from the slot, another area of need for the Panthers. Kirk will do great in the hands of their position coach, Ricky Proehl.
25. Tennessee Titans - G Connor Williams (Texas)
Considered by many to be one of the top linemen in the draft, Williams was viewed by most as a tackle but may be better off on the inside at guard, a spot where the Titans are in need of some help to protect Marcus Mariota. His toughness in the run game will help Tennessee as they transition to their new offensive scheme as well.
26. Atlanta Falcons - DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
The Falcons selected a high-motor pass rusher with a quick first step last year, and I think they do something similar in this year's draft with the selection of Bryan. The junior defensive tackle wasn't as productive as he would've liked to have been, but he's the first man off the ball almost all of the time, can disrupt plays in the backfield, and would look great next to Grady Jarrett. That defensive line all of a sudden looks like one of the best young groups in the league.
27. New Orleans Saints - LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
The Saints have a lot of young talent on defense, but one position where they could really use more of that is at linebacker, where they plugged some veterans in this past season with moderated success. Vander Esch is a player many of the "film junkies" in the media seem to love. He should be very attractive come draft weekend with his combination of size, instincts, and character. He could be a day one starter at MIKE for Sean Payton.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers - RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
Le'Veon Bell was given the franchise tag on Tuesday, and there are questions about his long-term future in the Steel City. Mike Tomlin may want to cover his bases with the selection of Guice, who isn't the receiver Bell is out of the backfield but has the physical mentality that is required in the AFC North along with plenty of upside.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB Donte Jackson (LSU)
There are questions about whether the Jaguars are going to keep dynamic slot corner Aaron Colvin, and if they don't then they may decide to dip back into the LSU well again with this selection. The junior cover corner has played every position in the secondary and would give the Jaguars an instant replacement in the slot for Colvin, as well as add elite speed to their special teams units.
30. Minnesota Vikings - DT Maurice Hurst (Michigan)
Obviously this hinges on Hurst's health after a reported medical issue showed up at the Combine, but he's one of the most disruptive players in this draft if he's healthy and would be a steal for the Vikings here. Minnesota desperately needs more help up front, and Hurst could absolutely be the Geno Atkins for Mike Zimmer in that scheme next to Linval Joseph. Hurst is just good enough as a run defender to be a three-down player at the next level.
31. New England Patriots - G Will Hernandez (UTEP)
Heading into the Super Bowl, plenty was written about what was perceived to be the weak link in the Patriots' offense - guard. Hernandez impressed a lot of people both at the Senior Bowl and at the combine, and has the size and quickness to be both an effective run blocker and pass protector.
32. Philadelphia Eagles - ???