Gregory Payan/Associated Press
With the NFL draft set to get underway on April 26, we have a good sense of who the top guys are.
Below there’s a first-round mock draft, but we will also single out three of the leading players and elaborate on their landing spot and why they would be a good fit.
The Cleveland Browns are on the clock.
NFL Mock Draft: Round 1
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
2. New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
5. Denver Broncos: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma State
12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
15. Arizona Cardinals: Derwin James, S, Florida State
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
24. Carolina Panthers: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Josh Allen is a polarizing prospect who is going to be all over the place on teams’ draft boards.
However, he’s one of the top prospects in this class and will be drafted high—or in this case, with the No. 1 overall pick.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has said there are sources within the Browns organization who are telling him they believe the pick will be Allen (h/t Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).
While Darnold or Rosen makes sense here, Allen does too.
It’s a huge gamble—a much larger one than they would be making with Rosen or Darnold—but this is also a vote of confidence for incumbent starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor for the next season or two, depending on how Allen progresses.
Allen checks all the boxes. At 6’5″ and 233 pounds, he’s a perfect “Build-A-Quarterback” in terms of measureables, and he has a rocket for an arm.
There are concerns with his game when you look at his accuracy and that he played for Wyoming, but Allen has a high ceiling.
Is it smart for a team like the Browns to gamble? Probably not, but looking at it today, Cleveland and the No. 1 overall pick is where Allen will land.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
With the No. 12 overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select Lamar Jackson to be their next franchise quarterback.
While there are no projected trades in the mock above, it should be noted that Jackson is a prime candidate for a team looking to trade up to snag him.
But here, he goes No. 12 to the Bills. Buffalo, after four quarterbacks went inside the top 11, still gets a fantastic player in Jackson.
Jackson might benefit from sitting behind a veteran and learning for a year—all of these quarterback prospects could—but going to Buffalo, there’s a good chance Jackson would be asked to lead the team from the jump.
The Bills did bring in A.J. McCarron, but looking at his two-year, $ 8.1 million deal, per Over the Cap, it’s clear he wasn’t brought in to necessarily start, as that appears to be backup money.
Going to the Bills, Jackson wouldn’t have the greatest set of receivers, but what he would have is running back LeSean McCoy.
Between McCoy’s abilities running the ball and Jackson’s running prowess, they would make for a dynamic duo, especially in the inclement weather of Buffalo, and lead a run-first team until the Bills can bring in some players to catch the football—perhaps later in the draft.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports the Bills could trade up to No. 2, but in this scenario, they stay put at No. 12 and still get arguably one of the best quarterback prospects in the draft.
A Jackson and McCoy duo would create a headache for opposing defenses.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The New York Giants, picking from No. 2 have a few options in addition to Quenton Nelson—a quarterback to succeed Eli Manning, defensive end Bradley Chubb or they could trade out with a team like the Bills to stockpile more picks while still picking inside the top 12.
Trading with the Bills would be the smartest move, but if they stay put, Nelson should be the pick.
Adding Nate Solder at left tackle is an excellent first step, but the 37-year-old Manning needs more protection.
His selection would shore up the left side of the offensive line for perhaps the remainder of Manning’s career and allow this offense with multiple talented skill position players to make plays and give the quarterback some time.
Regardless of how Manning has played the past few years, one thing each Giants season has had in common is poor offensive line play.
Picking a guard at No. 2 isn’t the most popular choice, but Nelson is of another caliber of guards—he could single-handedly help the Giants win games with his play.
Nelson should land with the G-Men.