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Mock NFL draft makes predictions

Jacob Steinberg, IV Leader Sports Columnist

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The big day is coming: The National Football League teams will choose players in the draft starting April 26.

In that spirit, an NFL mock draft is provided for sticking with the IV Leader this school year. The Cleveland Browns, finishing 0-16 in 2017, are on the clock with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns need a quarterback; everyone knows that they will most likely pick one with the No. 1 overall pick. Sam Darnold is the safest choice with this pick and will need time sitting on the bench to develop. I think that he will need better coaching to develop. Although he has gifted accuracy and a pretty good arm, his footwork needs work, along with his decision-making abilities. Sitting on the bench will help Darnold, and it would develop him into a quality NFL starter.

  1. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

General Manager Dave Gettleman has an option to trade down here. I really do not see him doing that, because he will want to take the best player available. Gettleman ends up adding a complement in the backfield for Eli Manning by adding the best player in this draft in my opinion. Saquon Barkley has the potential to be a once-in-a-generation player. He has a 4.4 40-yard dash, which is faster than Devin Hester, and 29 bench press repetitions, one more than Joe Thomas. To add to that, he has a 39-inch vertical leap, which is higher than Julio Jones. If all these skills can translate to the field, the Giants have themselves a future Hall of Famer at a position they desperately need help.

  1. New York Jets (from IND): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets gave up a lot of picks to get to No. 3. It is because they need a quarterback. Last season’s Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield has the chance to become the best quarterback in this draft. Although short in stature at 6 feet 1 inch, Mayfield displays pinpoint accuracy and great athleticism. He won’t be a lock to be the starting quarterback come Week 1, but he needs to prove that he can handle the pros by showing more maturity. If he was a few inches taller, he would most likely be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

  1. Cleveland Browns (From HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Bradley Chubb is a freak athlete. If it were not for the number of quarterbacks available in this draft, Chubb would most likely be a Top 3 pick, maybe even the No. 1 overall selection. Chubb can come in and make an impact in the coming years. With Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi on the defensive front, adding Chubb would make the Browns’ defensive front a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.

  1. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

There are a wide variety of options with this pick. We don’t know if John Elway is sold on the quarterbacks in this draft. If he is, he has the option of trading up to No. 2 if he has an offer that blows Dave Gettleman away. This quarterback fits the John Elway mold that he is looking for. Josh Allen has the best arm strength out of all the quarterbacks in the draft. He has the greatest boom or bust potential in this draft. Allen is an extremely raw talent who will need to sit on the bench and develop for the next season or two. The signing of Case Keenum will allow Allen time on the bench to develop over the course of the season and be ready to start by year two at the earliest.

  1. Indianapolis Colts (From NYJ): Roquan Smith, OLB, Georgia

The Colts need help at the linebacker spot. With Roquan Smith, the Colts have themselves a linebacker who can play and the best linebacker in this draft. Although he is undersized at 6 feet 1 inch and 225 pounds, his speed makes up for that. He plays a very physical game and can roam the field with sideline-to-sideline explosiveness. His potential is off the charts. If it is matched, the Colts have themselves a stud.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Denzel Ward is the best cover corner in this draft. He has everything you want in a cornerback, except for size. With great speed and athletic abilities, with the Bucs in need of secondary help after having the worst defense against the pass in 2017, Ward can make an immediate impact like his former college teammate Marshon Lattimore did last season.

  1. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Although this is not an attractive pick on the surface, it is a safe pick and it fills a major need for the Bears on the offensive line after the departure of Josh Sitton in free agency. Quenton Nelson is the best blue-chip starter in this draft. He can be plugged into the left guard position and start there for the next ten years. At 6 feet 5 inches and 329 pounds, he moves like a smaller lineman and many believe that he is a once-in-a-generation guard. Nelson will help create space on run and play action-passing plays in Matt Nagy’s offense.

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech

With Reuben Foster being charged with felony counts of domestic violence, his position with the team is under “great scrutiny.” Tremaine Edmunds is freakishly athletic. He is the most versatile linebacker in this draft. At 6 feet 5 inches and 253 pounds, he has incredibly gifted speed, explosiveness and size who can play in any defensive sub package, either at inside linebacker or as a pass rusher. Edmunds’ athleticism makes up his future All-Pro potential. If his skills translate to the field, the Niners have themselves a monster in their front seven.

  1. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has produced quality defensive backs that have had stellar careers in the NFL. Jon Gruden and the Raiders need a dynamic playmaker in the secondary. Minkah Fitzpatrick can play at safety or cornerback. He is athletic and can be the ball hawk safety that provides Derek Carr scoring chances off turnovers.

  1. Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

There has been talk around the league that Josh Rosen is the most likely of the “Big Four” quarterbacks to slide out of the top ten. Rosen is very similar to Jay Cutler, who played well in Adam Gase’s system. Rosen is a gifted passer with a high football IQ and a pro-ready game. He is the best pure passer in this draft. Although it may seem like Rosen may sit the bench to begin the year, don’t be surprised if he is the starter for the Dolphins come Week 1.

  1. Buffalo Bills (from CIN): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Bills need a quarterback. Lamar Jackson is a good developmental prospect for this year. He is extremely athletic and can create explosive plays on the field. He also has some experience in the offense that the Bills are running under Brian Daboll, who came from Alabama. However, his accuracy is very inconsistent and needs some work over the next year. If he can stay healthy, Jackson has the potential to be a star in the making.

  1. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

The Redskins need a defensive tackle badly. It is evident in the fact that they had the worst run defense in the NFL in 2017. Vita Vea is a monster. He has great size and strength, with 41 bench press repetitions at the NFL Combine. He is very athletically gifted also. However, he is still a very raw talent. Vea can jump into the rotation immediately and provide an impact for struggling Redskins defense in the future.

  1. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DL, UTSA

The Packers need to add a punch to their pass rush. Marcus Davenport has elite size at 6 feet 7 inches and 264 pounds. However, he is a very raw prospect who did not face top-level competition in college. He has great raw tools that need a little cooking in his first few seasons. He will need to develop for a year and hopefully he will take off.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Cardinals need a successor to Larry Fitzgerald, who is nearing the end of an illustrious career. With blazing speed and great route-running ability, Calvin Ridley has all the tools to be a dynamic playmaker for the Cardinals. Although he did not put up elite numbers at Alabama, it is mostly because of the limited passing capabilities of Jalen Hurts. Ridley will thrive in Arizona, while being mentored by Larry Fitzgerald.

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

The Ravens can easily trade down a handful of spots to get Hayden Hurst, but this is a mock draft with no trades. Hurst is a very versatile tight end who can line up anywhere on the field. He can become an even better pass catcher if he improves his route running. Hurst has the potential to become a great combination tight end for the Ravens, who need help in the receiving game.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Derwin James has the common traits of a future All-Pro safety. With the Chargers in need of secondary help, it can’t hurt to select a guy like him. James is a steal at this point in the first round. He is extremely athletic and can be used anywhere on the field. James is the safety the Chargers can’t pass on.

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

With the departure of Richard Sherman, the Seahawks have a void to fill on the perimeter. Josh Jackson is the best ball hawk corner in this draft. With eight interceptions and 27 pass defense, he has the potential to become a turnover machine. However, he is very inexperienced, and it will take time for him to come into his own.

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton WR, SMU

After releasing Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are in the market for a wide receiver. Courtland Sutton is tall and lengthy. At 6 feet 4 inches and 218 pounds, he can take a heavy target load in the Cowboys offense. He can easily win the 50-50 balls thrown to him, something that Bryant did well. He has been compared to Alshon Jeffery of the Philadelphia Eagles. He needs to improve his route running abilities and will most likely be a WR2 for the Cowboys.

  1. Detroit Lions: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Lions need to add another punch on their defensive line. Da’Ron Payne looks like the guy that new head coach Matt Patricia is looking for in a defensive lineman spot. He is a great run stopper with a very underrated pass rushing game that has a potential to develop over the years. He can start immediately and make an impact on the run defense for Detroit.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

After trading for Cordy Glenn, the Bengals already added a talented tackle to the mix. They could use another one on the other side. Mike McGlinchey is a very athletic and versatile tackle who can start at day one. He can play at either tackle position. McGlinchey has a very athletic frame but needs to add more strength to keep up with NFL pass rushers, which are much stronger and faster than the ones in college.

  1. Buffalo Bills: (from CIN): James Daniels, G/C, Iowa

After losing both of their interior lineman to retirement this offseason, the Bills grab James Daniels, whose versatility gives him the ability to play at either guard spot, or center in case of emergency. He is a good run blocker and pass protector but needs to gain weight and get stronger to play in the NFL. Daniels has a shot of being a Pro-Bowl-caliber lineman in the coming years.

  1. New England Patriots (from LAR): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Kolton Miller is very large for a tackle, at 6 feet 9 inches and 310 pounds. Miller has the potential to be dominant on the blind side of Tom Brady. He has amazing strength in his hands, something that is necessary for any good tackle in the pros. If he improves his blocking style to better compliment the pass, watch out pass rushers, because the Pats might have a future Pro Bowler.

  1. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Although he is not Quenton Nelson, Will Hernandez is an underrated prospect who should not be overlooked. He lead all guards in bench press repetitions at the NFL Combine with 37, two more than Nelson. His power and athletic ability lead to his great run blocking, as well as an underrated pass blocking game. When all is said and done, Hernandez has a great shot of becoming a Pro-Bowl-caliber guard for the years to come.

  1. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

Harold Landry is the best defensive player available at this point, and you can’t pass up on him. Landry is a pure-speed rusher and provides quickness off the edge. He is one of the top edge rushers in the draft. He will make in impact in Year Two and take off from there.

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

With Dontari Poe leaving in free agency, the Falcons have a hole to fill at the defensive tackle position. Taven Bryan is another great defensive lineman prospect in this draft. Although he has great size, strength and amazing athletic abilities, he is a very raw talent. The Falcons favor these types of players in their defense. Bryan needs time to develop, and Dan Quinn is the perfect man for development.

  1. New Orleans Saints: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Jaire Alexander has elite quickness and great ball skills. The Steelers can use a younger corner who can play almost anywhere on the perimeter. Alexander plays hard and can start from Day One for the Saints, starting alongside Marshon Lattimore for the future.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State

Leighton Vander Esch is a big, athletic linebacker who can roam the field like a safety. He is the dynamic, defensive playmaker who won’t make in immediate impact on the field, but he will only get better over time. Vander Esch can replace the void left by Ryan Shazier, who will be out for an extended period of time. He is the best inside linebacker available at this point in the draft. He is very versatile and can play anywhere on the field.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

After losing both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the offseason, the Jags need to give Marquise Lee help. With D.J. Moore, they add a weapon who has great athleticism, along with quickness that translates to his run-after-catch (RAC) abilities. Moore will fit perfectly in a Jags offense that relies on short-play action passing and will take advantage of his elite quickness as their WR2.

  1. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

Isaiah Wynn is a very underrated lineman prospect. He is very athletic and a very good run blocker with decent pass protection as well. Wynn also has great hands that allow him to open holes in the run game. Not only is his run protection good, but his pass protection is very underrated as well and he is capable to move over to tackle in case of an emergency. With picking Wynn, the Vikings provide aid to an offensive line that was exposed in the NFC Championship game against the Eagles.

  1. New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

Rashaan Evans is a very instinctive player who possesses sideline-to-sideline speed and explosiveness. He showed up big in the past three Alabama national championship games. He is a versatile linebacker, ones that Bill Belichick tend to prefer in his defense. Evans can play anywhere on the field for the Patriots and provide some aid to a Patriots defense that struggled at times last season.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

With the departures of Trey Burton and Brent Celek, the defending Super Bowl champions need another tight end to compliment Zach Ertz. Dallas Goedert is a good pass-catching tight end with has great ball focus which translates to his abilities to make a spectacular catch every once in a while. The main focus of concern is that the level he played at in college is a much lower level of competition than the NFL. If he can prove he can play at the pro level, the Eagles have themselves a quality combination tight end that will fit well in Doug Pederson’s offense.

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Mock NFL draft makes predictions