The 2017 regular season has officially come to a close. If your team is not in the playoffs, you are already thinking of the offseason. The most important part of the offseason is the NFL Draft as it prepares for success next season but also lays the foundation for a possible dynasty. Let’s Dive In!
#1 Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold (QB) USC
Sam Darnold is only 20 years old and will need some coaching to be truly ready for the NFL; I still think he is the quarterback prospect worth taking for the Browns at #1 overall. John Dorsey may decide that he needs to get a veteran option into Cleveland instead of just drafting Darnold at #1, giving Darnold a season before being expected to lead the franchise as a 20 year old (can’t say that enough). Keep an eye on Alex Smith as the Chiefs could be looking to drop him for picks so that Mahomes can be the starter moving forward, which is new GM John Dorsey’s old franchise. Other names to watch are Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and A.J. McCarron as free agent additions. I still think they take their quarterback of the future with the #1 overall pick along with a veteran stop gap to lead them in 2018.
#2 New York Giants – Saquon Barkley (RB) Penn State
The biggest issue with the Giants this season was not Eli Manning but rather, a ton of injuries and a horrific offensive line. I think new GM Dave Gettleman will look to attack this season and try to be a playoff contender right away. They need to be completely healthy and need a better offensive line before they consider a complete rebuild by taking a quarterback #2 overall. Taking Barkley will help Eli in the short term but will also create a foundation for the next quarterback after Manning retires.
#3 Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (OG) Notre Dame
This is the dream scenario for the Colts. They sit at the perfect spot to trade down to another team that wants a quarterback and gain some picks to surround this roster with more youthful talent around a healthy Andrew Luck. The Colts would love to get a few more high round picks with this pick to continue to attack the roster. I don’t think they stay in this spot and I believe they trade out of it to move down the board and grab a guy like Quenton Nelson. Nelson is the best offensive lineman in the Draft.
#4 Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Bradley Chubb (DE) NC State
John Dorsey is a “football guy” and Bradley Chubb is a “football guy”, so it seems like a match made in heaven. John Dorsey saw the Kansas City Chiefs rise with a solid pass rush and adding Chubb with Garrett would create a powerful young duo. Chubb is a nonstop presence off the edge that can play all three downs and is more than just a pass rush specialist.
#5 Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen (QB) UCLA
There is a part of me that thinks Elway will be a heavy participant in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes this offseason. I don’t see the Chiefs giving their divisional rival Alex Smith, so the next best option will be found in the draft. If a deal with Cousins does not work out, Elway cannot waste another year with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Elway has seen the natural passing talent of Rosen and hopes that he can make it work in Denver. He would be willing to trade up with a team like Indianapolis to make this deal and prepare the Broncos to compete for the playoffs this next season with decent quarterback play.
#6 New York Jets – Connor Williams (OT) Texas
The Jets need a young face at the quarterback position that has actual talent and can compete in the NFL. A year in Josh McCown‘s shadow would prove very valuable for a rookie quarterback and give the Jets a better future because of it. The Jets were a surprise team this season after all indications had them ranked as one of the worst teams in the league. They will be trade up candidates on Draft Day to get a quarterback. I will be fascinated to see how the Jets handle their quarterback situation this offseason. I think they re-sign Josh McCown and draft a quarterback, but I don’t know when in the Draft. For now, I will have them improving a part of their team that is weak, the offensive line.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB) Alabama
The Buccaneers had the worst pass defense in the league this year. They need edge presence and may look to take a player with their first pick to finally get a consistent pass rush. It would be hard to pass up a player like Fitzpatrick that can play multiple positions in the secondary. He can help their pass defense with his ability to be a flexible chess piece.
#8 Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley (WR) Alabama
The Bears need a reliable target for Trubisky on the outside that can make plays with the ball in the air. A large framed target will do well with a young quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky needs a receiver he can rely on for third downs and in the red zone. It will be interesting to see if they can re-sign Dontrelle Inman, which would complement Ridley’s speed at wide receiver on the opposite side of the field.
#9 Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith (LB) Georgia
A stud linebacker from Georgia would be extremely helpful to this woeful Raiders’ defense. They need a youthful leader in the middle with athleticism to make plays from sideline to sideline. Smith could be one of the best linebackers we have seen come into the Draft in a few years.
#10 San Francisco 49ers – Derwin James (S) Florida State
Jimmy Garoppolo has become a must watch quarterback since coming to San Francisco. A full offseason with Kyle Shanahan should make them an intriguing team to watch next season. They are in position to take the best player available, and that is Derwin James who can be a leader in their secondary.
#11 Miami Dolphins – Mike McGlinchey (OT) Notre Dame
The Dolphins need some offensive lineman that can start right away. McGlinchey is a talented tackle who can play left or right tackle and can help the Dolphins right away.
#12 Cincinnati Bengals – Chukwuma Okorafor (OT) Western Michigan
I honestly think that if Kirk Cousins does not re-sign with the Redskins and goes elsewhere, the Bengals could trade Andy Dalton to the Redskins. This would bring Dalton back to Jay Gruden and give them a quarterback to continue to compete in the NFC East. There is no certainty to that so I can’t speculate that scenario quite well. What I can say about the Bengals is that they need offensive lineman. Okorafor is a road grader and can start on their offensive line on the edge.