The top five of the 2018 NFL Draft is turning into quarterback musical chairs. And the quarterback-needy team that doesn’t strike quickly could be left without a seat.
The New York Jets were determined not to be that team, packaging three second-round picks and the No. 6 overall selection to the Indianapolis Colts to move up three spots. With Cleveland and the New York Giants currently slotted to pick first and second, the Jets are guaranteed one of the top three quarterbacks.
Who is the next team to trade up? Buffalo? Arizona? Don’t be left without a chair …
–1. Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns’ search for a long-term answer at quarterback continues. Darnold’s turnovers stand out, but so do his intangibles, passing instincts and ability to move the pocket and create plays. Less than six weeks before the draft, Darnold is the favorite to go No. 1 to the Browns.
–2. New York Giants — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
With new decision-makers (general manager and head coach) in New York, there is a favorable chance this pick will be a quarterback or traded. But if this regime truly believes in Eli Manning as “the guy” for the next few seasons, Barkley and his impact would aid the quarterback more than anyone else at this selection.
–3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis) — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
What we know: The Jets traded a king’s ransom for this pick in order to draft a quarterback. What we don’t know: Which quarterbacks will be left for them? With both Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles needing to win now, Rosen might be their best option.
–4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) — Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If the Browns hold onto this pick — which is a big “if” — Chubb might be the favorite, pairing with Myles Garrett for one of the best pass-rush tandems in the NFL. In this scenario, Cleveland locks up the two most important positions on the roster with the first two picks.
–5. Denver Broncos — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Broncos signed Case Keenum to be the short-term starter but that likely won’t stop John Elway from finding a long-term answer if one is available with this pick. While his tape is streaky, Allen has an impressive physical skill-set with his size, arm and athleticism — kind of like Elway when he was a NFL prospect.
–6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
After trading back from No. 3, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Colts move back again for more draft currency. However, if general manager Chris Ballard stays at No. 6, Nelson should be in consideration as a plug-and-play guard who will help stabilize an inconsistent unit.
–7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Derwin James, SS, Florida State
Although he is a better athlete than football player right now, James has a bright future ahead of him as a do-it-all defender able to play single-high or in the box. Justin Evans and James would give the Bucs a talented safety duo for the foreseeable future.
–8. Chicago Bears — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Chicago re-upped Kyle Fuller long-term but still need more help on the cornerback depth chart. Ward lacks ideal height, but his feet, hips and eyes are what make him a potentially special cover man.
–9. San Francisco 49ers — Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
With quarterbacks going high in this draft, talented players will fall — and teams with a quarterback already in place will benefit. That would be illustrated with this pick if San Francisco comes away with Fitzpatrick, who can play outside corner, nickel or safety. General manager John Lynch will be smitten with what Fitzpatrick offers on defense.
–10. Oakland Raiders — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Raiders have one of the weakest interior defensive line units in the AFC and need to upgrade from the inside out on defense. At 340 pounds, Vea is a rare player with his power to handle double-teams and athleticism to chase down ball-carriers on the perimeter.
–11. Miami Dolphins — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
A high-ceiling linebacker, Edmunds can be a cornerstone defender for the Dolphins’ defense, which would also make his father proud, as Ferrell Edmunds was a Pro Bowl tight end for Miami in the early ’90s.
–12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati) — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Bills are in hot pursuit for a quarterback; there is no doubt about that. But what is the organization’s next move? Trade up? Stay patient? It is unlikely they stay at No. 12, but if they do, Mayfield could still be available for them.
–13. Washington Redskins — Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
Even with Zach Brown re-signing in Washington, Smith would still be a home run pick for the Redskins. His tackling range and toughness would be welcomed in a division that includes running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and (perhaps) Saquon Barkley.
–14. Green Bay Packers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Packers, who tried to pluck Kyle Fuller from Chicago, have holes on the cornerback depth chart that need addressed. Jackson and his ball-hawking skill-set would be one solution.
–15. Arizona Cardinals — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Sam Bradford is a stop-gap quarterback, and Arizona should be quarterback-hunting in the draft. Jackson might not be a fit for every offense, but if the Cardinals are willing to open the playbook, this pick could end up being a steal.
–16. Baltimore Ravens — James Daniels, C, Iowa
With Ryan Jensen signing a lucrative deal with the Buccaneers, the Ravens’ center position is a question mark. Matt Skura likely gets first crack at the job, but Daniels would be an upgrade at the position and provide immediate interior line depth.
–17. Los Angeles Chargers — Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The Chargers focused on the interior offensive line in last year’s draft and could look to add youth at tackle this spring. Miller doesn’t have first-round tape, but the raw traits and testing numbers could land him in the top-20 picks.
–18. Seattle Seahawks — Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia:
Seattle has invested in upgrading the offensive line, but the Seahawks aren’t done. Time will tell if they look to add more help in the first round, but Wynn, a plug-and-play guard, wouldn’t be a bad option if they do.
–19. Dallas Cowboys — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Dallas hasn’t addressed the top-three on the wide receiver depth chart over the last five seasons, and it is time for an upgrade. Ridley would be an ideal “Z” receiver opposite Dez Bryant, giving Dak Prescott a pass-catcher who can create his own separation.
–20. Detroit Lions — Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
Detroit needs reinforcements on the defensive line to provide more of a pass rush, and Bryan is a candidate to do that. One of the few three-technique defensive tackles in this draft with Pro Bowl potential, Bryan is a plus athlete who showed steady improvement since he arrived in Gainesville.
–21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo) — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
With Cordy Glenn added to the offensive line, the Bengals won’t be pressured to go offensive line with this pick. Cincinnati could still add an offensive tackle but could also add depth on defense with a promising linebacker like Vander Esch.
–22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
After drafting a quarterback earlier in the round, the Bills would be wise to continue and add to the offensive line here. Part of the appeal with McGlinchey is his ability to play tackle or guard, plugging holes wherever needed.
–23. Los Angeles Rams — Marcus Davenport, DE, UT-San Antonio
Defensive end was a need before Robert Quinn was dealt to Miami, making an upgrade at pass rusher even more important now. Davenport is still raw in areas, but he can provide immediate juice off the edge and be the team’s “new” Quinn.
–24. Carolina Panthers — Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Panthers have some questions on the offensive line and Williams should be an attractive prospect for them in the opening round. He has the skill-set to play guard as a rookie while also possibly being the answer long-term at left tackle.
–25. Tennessee Titans — Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
Tennessee’s defensive front hasn’t created enough pressure on the quarterback, making pass rusher a likely option here. Landry didn’t have the senior season most expected, but he hasn’t forgotten how to bend the edge and put pressure on the quarterback.
–26. Atlanta Falcons — Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Cornerback is far down the list of needs on the Falcons’ wish list, but Hughes is simply great value at this point and would give Atlanta an upgrade over Brian Poole in the nickel. He would also give the secondary insurance for Desmond Trufant, who missed eight games the past two seasons due to injury.
–27. New Orleans Saints — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Although defensive tackle isn’t the top need on the roster, it is a position that could use more firepower. Payne has the athleticism and power combination to be a three-down player, helping shut down the run and providing some interior pass rush.
–28. Pittsburgh Steelers — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The addition of Joe Haden helped, but cornerback is still one of the weak spots on the Steelers’ roster. Alexander might be undersized, but he plays bigger with his athleticism, toughness and ball skills.
–29. Jacksonville Jaguars — Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
One of the league’s best defenses would get better with this selection. Evans might not be a day one starter, but it shouldn’t take long to work himself into the mix, providing Jacksonville with meaningful snaps at linebacker.
–30. Minnesota Vikings — Will Hernandez, OG, Texas-El Paso
The Vikings invested heavily in Kirk Cousins — now it is time to protect him. Hernandez would provide immediate interior depth and upgrade the position.
–31. New England Patriots — Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
At 6-5 and 250 pounds, Carter is a freaky athlete who can do a multitude of things on the football field. He lacks direction and a true position, but a smart defensive coach will be able to utilize his gifts, making the Patriots a favorable landing spot for him.
–32. Philadelphia Eagles — D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
When you win the Super Bowl, you can draft luxury players in the first round. And that is what Moore would be in Philadelphia, providing a dynamic inside-outside threat.