Carter Thomson’s NFL Mock Draft

Photo Courtesy: Patrick Mansell/Penn State Athletics

Author: Carter Thomson

These picks are made based on what I think the teams should pick from what I have been reading from many other NFL Insiders that have been talking to scouts and team personnel. These are my thoughts after compiling results from previous mock drafts from experts in the field. These are not necessarily predictions on what teams will do.

This was a really fun experience for me to make my own, first-ever mock draft for the NFL. I’ve always read a lot of mock drafts that lead up to draft day, but I’ve never been this engaged in the process until I started broadcasting with WSUM, so this was a great experience. Please enjoy. 

#1. Browns: Sam Darnold, QB – USC: The Browns have to get this pick nailed down and take care of the quarterback situation that has been a mess for the last two decades. Darnold looks built for the harsh AFC North with his NFL-ready size and I think he’s the best QB prospect, whether it’s because of his play-making abilities, accuracy, strength or many other intangibles that make him worthy of the number 1 overall pick. 

#2. NY Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB – Penn State: I don’t think the Giants will take Eli Manning’s successor unless it’s Sam Darnold, and he’s already gone. If they still want to make a run at the Super Bowl with Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley would make this offense frightening for opposing teams. Running back is a huge need for this team, so this would be a home run pick.

#3. NY Jets (via trade with Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB – UCLA: This pick could go one of two ways: either QB Josh Rosen or QB Baker Mayfield. Rosen seems to be the more prototypical NFL quarterback with the size, arm strength and other intangibles teams love, so that’s why Rosen will fit with the Jets.

#4. Cleveland Browns (via trade with Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE – N.C State: If Saquon Barkley were available here, I could see Cleveland going in that direction, but their defense needs a lot of help too. Having a great pass rush can cover some holes on a defense, and the duo of Chubb and Myles Garrett could be one of the best pass rushing duos for years to come

#5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB – Oklahoma: Even though the Broncos signed Case Keenum this offseason, I don’t believe he is their future at quarterback. Baker Mayfield is similar to Case Keenum and could learn from him for a year before he takes over. Mayfield would have weapons to help develop as well under GM John Elway. 

#6. Indianapolis Colts (via trade with NY Jets): Quenton Nelson, OG – Notre Dame: If Bradley Chubb falls here, then Indianapolis goes with Chubb, but the offensive line needs to keep Andrew Luck upright. If the Colts have Andrew Luck on the field they have a chance. Nelson is considered the safest pick in this draft and the offensive line is a big need for Indianapolis.  

#7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S – Florida State:  Tampa Bay had one of the worst defenses last year. They have already addressed their pass rush by adding Jason Pierre Paul, so they need to upgrade their secondary. Derwin James has been climbing draft boards since the combine numbers he put up and his potential gets him here. 

#8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB – Virginia Tech: The Bears would love if Quenton Nelson fell here, but they need some playmakers on the defense and Tremaine Edmunds is a playmaker. He can play inside or outside linebacker so he’s versatile for the Bears to get defensive help. 

#9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB – Ohio State: They could go with Roquan Smith here with questions about their own young middle linebacker, but instead they grab the top shutdown corner in this draft to play on the other side of Richard Sherman, who he can learn from. CB is a big need for the 49ers, and with Ward it could turn into one of their better positions this season. 

#10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB – Georgia: Oakland needs a leader to solidify that defense. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who could anchor the middle of the field to allow Khalil Mack to get to the quarterback. He’s great in coverage and against the run. 

#11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S – Alabama:  I don’t think the Dolphins will go with a QB here. I think they stick with Ryan Tannehill for another year. They need playmakers on defense and the versatility of Fitzpatrick to play either safety of slot corner is something the Dolphins would love. Fitzpatrick has a high football IQ too, so this would be a great pick for Miami. 

#12. Buffalo Bills (via trade with Cincinnati Bengals): Josh Allen, QB – Wyoming: Buffalo may have to trade up to get this guy but, in this case, Allen falls to Buffalo at 12. Allen is really raw, he’s a little too inaccurate right now and I think needs to sit for at least a year to develop before he is ready. If he is given time, however, he could turn into a franchise QB with his arm strength, size and potential. 

#13. Washington Indigenous Peoples: Vita Vea, DT – Washington: The Indigenous Peoples ranked dead last against the run last year. Vea is an athletic freak for 6’4” and 350 pounds and is the best run-stopper in this draft. This fills a big need for Washington. Vea can anchor that defensive front and is drawing comparisons to some great defensive lineman such as Haloti Ngata.   

#14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DE – UT-San Antonio:  The Packers would love if one of those top three defensive backs fell to them, and they might even trade up to get one but if they don’t, they should go with the potential of Marcus Davenport. At 6’6”, he has incredible physical skills and runs under a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. A pass rush can help mask some weaknesses in the secondary, which the Packers definitely have.  

#15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB – Louisville: The Cardinals may trade up to get one of the top 4 quarterbacks, but they need to draft one early. They are slated to rely on Sam Bradford right now, who just can’t seem to stay healthy, but whichever quarterback they do draft will have the opportunity to sit for a year before being thrust in as QB1. 

#16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR – Alabama: Baltimore did sign Michael Crabtree this offseason, but they still need more weapons on offense, and Ridley is the best WR in this draft class. His game speed is better than his combine numbers showed and he’s a great route runner so this is a big time weapon for the Ravens offense. 

#17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT – Alabama: The Chargers need someone in the middle of this defense to slow down the run. It really makes the pass rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram ineffective if they can’t stop the run. Payne was incredible in the College Football Playoff and showed how he is capable of wreaking havoc in the backfield.

#18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, OG – UTEP- The Seahawks have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball, but the number one priority is giving Russell Wilson some time in the pocket. You see him make plays running around outside the pocket, but he can’t always do that. The offensive line should be addressed, and Hernandez can help in the running game as well. 

#19. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Moore, WR – Maryland: The Dez Bryant era in Dallas is over and the Cowboys are left with Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns at WR. Dak can’t throw to Jason Witten for much longer and Moore could help open space for Ezekiel Elliott running the ball.

#20. Detroit Lions: James Daniels, C – Iowa: Detroit could go with a defensive lineman here too, but I think they should shore up that interior offensive line. First of all, you have to keep Matthew Stafford upright to be successful in the NFC North.  Secondly, their running game needs to be improved and one way to help that is through the offensive line. They can get value at RB later. 

#21. Cincinnati Bengals (via trade with Buffalo Bills): Mike McGlinchey, OT – Notre Dame:  Cincinnati is rebuilding its offensive line after letting Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler walk in free agency. They added Cordy Glenn for the left tackle spot and McGlinchey can compete for their opening at right tackle, where he’ll be best suited to start in the NFL. 

#22. Buffalo Bills (via trade with Kansas City Chiefs): Kolton Miller, OT – UCLA: The Bills traded their left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Bengals and also had one offensive lineman retire this offseason. If they’re going to get their quarterback of the future with their first pick, then they better get some player to protect him. Miller is athletic and can be a starter for the Bills on day one.

#23. New England Patriots (via trade with LA Rams): Josh Jackson, CB – Iowa: Jackson has fallen a little in this draft due to his combine numbers and his lack of top speed, but he is a ball hawk. After eight interceptions last year with the Hawkeyes, he fills a big need for the Patriots who let Malcolm Butler walk this offseason. 

#24. Carolina Panthers: Justin Reid, S – Stanford: Receiver may be a need for the Panthers, but it may be a reach to take anyone other than Ridley and Moore at this point. Reid would fill the void left by safety Kurt Coleman. Reid is big and athletic, and he could be a playmaker for the Panthers secondary unit. 

#25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, OLB – Boston College: The Titans’ pass-rushers are starting to get old, and Landry might be the second best option behind Bradley Chubb in this draft. With 16.5 sacks his junior year, he knows how to get to the quarterback and is a good value pick at this point in the draft.  

#26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT – Florida: With Dontari Poe leaving in free agency the Falcons are going to need a run stopper up the middle for this defense. Any of Vea, Payne and Bryan would do for the Falcons, but Bryan falls in their lap here at 26.  

#27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE – South Dakota State: The Saints have been looking for a tight end since trading Jimmy Graham in 2015. Goedert is a better pass catcher than Hayden Hurst but Hurst is the more well-rounded tight end. That won’t matter, as the Saints want a TE to stretch the field, which Goedert will do.  This makes the New Orleans offense even scarier than last year. 

#28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB – Alabama: The Steelers don’t know if Ryan Shazier will be able to return from his scary neck injury. The defense needs to be able to step up, looking at their 45-42 loss to Jacksonville in the playoffs this past year, and Evans is a physical punishing linebacker that will be a good fit in Pittsburgh with a need at linebacker. 

#29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR – SMU: Losing their top 2 receivers to free agency leaves a big hole at the position. Sutton is a big receiver at almost 6”4”, and could be a playmaker for the Jaguars. He needs to be a little more consistent to be great. 

#30. Minnesota Vikings: Jaire Alexander, CB – Louisville: The Vikings could go for a player on the offensive line here, but with Alexander sliding in the draft, they take the best available player. He also fills a need and could take over for Terrance Newman, who will turn 40 this upcoming season. 

#31. New England Patriots: Geron Christian, OT – Louisville: After letting Nate Solder go to the Giants in free agency, the Patriots need a new left tackle to protect Tom Brady for however many years he has left. Christian may be a bit of a reach in the first round but with the Patriots unable to grab one of the top 2 tackles, they have to reach a little to protect Brady’s blindside.  

#32. Philadelphia Eagles: Leighton Vander Esch, LB – Boise State: The Eagles have the luxury to take the best available player at this point and Vander Esch is one of the top linebackers in this class. This could shore up the Eagles defense if they start to lose some of their defensive contributors. 


I do think some teams will try to move in this draft either up or down. Teams to watch who I think may be looking to trade up: Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers. 

Counter that with some teams willing to trade down then if they receive the right trade offer package: New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers.