With the Broncos draft selection locked in at fifth overall, it was time to fire up another mock draft, and now that the top two quarterback prospects of the draft class—Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen—have officially declared, there was no better time.
In a draft class that has more question marks than usual at the top, expect plenty of teams to reach on their preferred quarterbacks in a class that has six legitimate NFL prospects at the position.
Without further ado, here are our still-very-early projections.
1) Cleveland Browns, Sam Darnold, QB, USC
This pick should be between the two southern California kids, and while Rosen sounds reluctant to play in Cleveland, that shouldn't factor into the equation. At the end of the day, Darnold's the top pick for the same reason's he was in our last mock; because the USC quarterback has been more consistent the past two years and he also possesses the higher ceiling of the two. He's simply more athletic and has shown the big arm to squeeze throws in tight windows with consistency. All things that really matter in the transition to the pros.
Darnold has also shown some clutch ability late in games, and at only 20 years of age, the Trojans quarterback will be hard to pass up.
Lots could change from now until late April, especially with free agency and trades, as Cleveland might still go after Cincinnati Bengals backup A.J. McCarron who they were oh-so-close to getting at the trade deadline in 2017.
For now, Darnold’s the pick, and he might be even if Cleveland finds a quarterback, as this should be prime territory for needy teams to trade up.
2) New York Giants, Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen to the Giants seems like a much better fit, as he'd provide an immediate succession plan to Eli Manning if his time is really up in the Big Apple. Rosen is polished and more pro-ready than any signal-caller prospect we’ve seen since Jameis Winston.
The UCLA product's inconsistencies the past two years have led him to adopt some bad habits, while the poor offensive line he’s played behind has got him banged up. Injuries are a concern and Rosen isn't the same caliber athlete that others in the class are.
However, he simply looks the part on tape and is polished beyond his years which will take him a long way. Regardless of how things unfold in free agency and draft trades, Rosen and Darnold are just too talented in a fairly weak class to not go one and two.
3) Indianapolis Colts, Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
The Colts could go several different directions as they have two good quarterbacks in their 20’s and essentially nothing else. No one is out of bounds with this pick.
While Saquon Barkley feels like the type of pick the Colts would make in the past, he just doesn’t make sense when they already have a promising young back in Marlon Mack. This draft is also loaded with running backs, which means they could wait to take one in the later rounds.
The pick really came down to Chubb, Connor Williams or one of the other talented edge rushers in the class. With the Colts defense completely lacking in building blocks up front, Chubb was an easy pick to make.
The devastating edge rusher has a really complete game and plays with his hair on fire. He'd give the Colts the type of tone-setter up front that they’ve been missing since the glory days of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.
4) Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans), Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Browns need to add talent, plain and simple. While their defense was suitable at times, their offense is desperate for more playmakers, and this feels like the range in which Barkley should be going.
His season wasn’t always spectacular, forcing him to be excluded from an invite to New York City for the Heisman ceremony, but that doesn’t mean much in the draft. What matters is that he’s a legitimate elite running back talent with the lateral agility, hurdling skills, and jump cuts to fill Youtube with content for the rest of the year. He also has the type of breakaway speed we haven’t seen in a big back since Todd Gurley, and is at his best as a receiver out the backfield, one of the most attractive qualities in a modern NFL running back.
Barkley has it all, and he’d have the advantage of running behind a pretty good offensive line when everyone’s healthy in Cleveland. The Browns could also address their defense, though with Myles Garrett they don’t need an edge rusher as badly. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was considered. Connor Williams could also be in play if they feel Joe Thomas is on the decline as he returns from a season-ending triceps tear.