Mock draft: NFL beat writers make picks for the teams they cover


With the NFL draft less than a week away, reporters who cover their teams on a daily basis take a crack in predicting how the first round will unfold in The Times’ annual beat writers’ mock. Each reporter makes a pick and gives a rationale for that selection.

1. Cleveland Browns | Quarterback Josh Allen, Wyoming

(Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman)

Josh Allen has a great arm, size and mobility. He'll he'll sit for a year behind Tyrod Taylor, which will give him time to improve his accuracy by shortening his stride and narrowing his base. — Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland Plain Dealer

2. New York Giants | Running back Saquon Barkley, Penn State

(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

The Giants will use 9:59 of their allotted 10 minutes on the clock waiting to see if there is any team that wants to trade up to No. 2 for a quarterback. No takers? Fine. The Giants will select Barkley to give them a dynamic playmaker in the backfield for the first time since Tiki Barber. — Tom Rock, Newsday

3. New York Jets | Quarterback Sam Darnold, USC

(Harry How / Getty Images)

It is no secret that the Jets need a quarterback and they will be doing backflips if Darnold slips to them at No. 3. He is viewed as the most complete of all the quarterback prospects. — Brian Costello, New York Post

4. Cleveland Browns | Defensive end Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams would love creating game plans with Chubb and Myles Garrett rushing the quarterback. Emmanuel Ogbah would be part of the package, too. Garrett could move inside. He got his first NFL sack lining up as a defensive tackle. — Jeff Schudel, News-Herald

5. Denver Broncos | Quarterback Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

The Broncos love how Mayfield can make plays off-script, and likes the edgy personality he brings to the position. Quenton Nelson is also a possibility. — Mike Klis, 9News

6. Indianapolis Colts | Linebacker Roquan Smith, Georgia

(Joshua L. Jones / Athens Banner-Herald)

With Chubb off the board, general manager Chris Ballard still helps needy defense with Smith, who brings necessary speed and athleticism. Quenton Nelson is enticing, but it's tough to take a guard this high. — Mike Chappel, CBS4/FOX59

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Guard Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Nelson is one of the top players in the draft. The Bucs averaged only 3.7 yards per carry a year ago. They signed Ravens center Ryan Jensen and will move Ali Marpet to left guard, giving them three sold inside players to protect Jameis Winston. — Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times

8. Chicago Bears | Cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

With Josh Rosen still on the board, Bears general manager Ryan Pace will call every quarterback-needy team, hoping to trade back to add picks and position the Bears for better value; i.e. drafting an edge rusher. If they turn in the card, though, it’ll read Minkah Fitzpatrick because of his versatility, ball skills, instincts and familiarity with Eddie Jackson, the second-year starting safety who played with Fitzpatrick at Alabama. — Rich Campbell, Chicago Tribune

9. San Francisco 49ers | Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

(Michael Shroyer / Getty Images)

The 49ers can’t count on Reuben Foster to play middle linebacker this season and perhaps even in seasons to come. Edmunds is a young player — he’ll only be 19 on draft day — who has rare size for the position and plenty of room to get better. — Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee

10. Oakland Raiders | Cornerback Denzel Ward, Ohio State

(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

General manager Reggie McKenzie likely is open for business here, willing to trade back with a Josh Rosen suitor. Should he stay, defensive tackle might be the pick. But lets give the Raiders their second first-round cornerback from Ohio State in as many years (Gareon Conley). — Michael Gehlken, Las Vegas Review-Journal

11. Miami Dolphins | Safety Derwin James, Florida State

(Steve Cannon / Associated Press)

With the linebackers and quarterbacks Miami wants off the board, the Dolphins select James, make him the center fielder of its defense, and move T.J. McDonald to linebacker. — Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

12. Buffalo Bills | Quarterback Josh Rosen, UCLA

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

This is the dream scenario for general manager Brandon Beane, who is able to secure his potential franchise quarterback without having to sell the farm to move up. Rosen is the prototypical pocket passer who would be a good fit in the precision, quick-strike offense new coordinator Brian Daboll is expected to install. — Jay Skurski, Buffalo News

13. Washington Redskins | Defensive tackle Vita Vea, Washington

(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Washington needs to beef up its front seven, and adding a big, athletic nose tackle such as Vea (6-4, 347 pounds) would do wonders for Jay Gruden’s defense. The Redskins finished dead-last in run defense in 2017, but expect that to change with Vea clogging up the middle. — Kimberley Martin, Washington Post

14. Green Bay Packers | Defensive end Marcus Davenport, Texas San Antonio

(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

The Packers’ greatest needs are outside rusher and cornerback. Davenport is the former and has the most upside of any defensive player left on the board. — Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette

15. Arizona Cardinals | Receiver Calvin Ridley, Alabama

(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

This fills an immediate need while also addressing the future. Pairing Ridley with Larry Fitzgerald would upgrade the receiving corps right away. Fitzgerald turns 35 in August so this could be his last season. Ridley could be the No. 1 receiver after that. — Kent Somers, Arizona Republic

16. Baltimore Ravens | Tackle Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

With his former college teammate Ronnie Stanley entrenched in the left side, Ravens opt for the book-end, plug-and-play tackle. The Ravens badly need offensive skill-position players but with Ridley off the board, taking any of the other receivers or a tight end at 16 would be a reach. The Ravens have uncertainly at tackle after parting ways with 16-game starter Austin Howard. — Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun

17. CHARGERS | Defensive tackle Da’ Ron Payne, Alabama

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

While the Chargers have to be tempted by Lamar Jackson being on the board and some good linebackers still available, they need to get better against the run. Payne showed at college football’s highest level that he can be a massive disrupter on the inside. He’ll fit nicely with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. — Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times

18. Seattle Seahawks | Receiver Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

It would be stunning if the Seahawks don't trade out of this spot and get more picks — at the moment they don't have any on the second day of the draft. But if they keep it, Kirk might make sense to inject some playmaking life into the offense. Tyler Lockett will be a free agent following the 2018 season and Kirk also could be his heir apparent as a returner. — Bob Condotta, Seattle Times

19. Dallas Cowboys | Defensive tackle Taven Bryan, Florida

(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Tough call here. The Cowboys have strong interest in Leighton Vander Esch as well, but there are more solid options in later rounds at linebacker than defensive tackle. — David Moore, Dallas Morning News

20. Detroit Lions | Defensive end Harold Landry, Boston College

(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

The Lions used the franchise tag on Ziggy Ansah, but there's no guarantee they'll be able to sign him to a long-term deal. Even if they do, new coach Matt Patricia needs pass rush help for his defense. Landry is versatile enough to contribute as a stand-end linebacker or defensive end and the Lions employ his old position coach, Paul Pasqualoni, as defensive coordinator. — Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

21. Cincinnati Bengals | Center Billy Price, Ohio State

(Kyle Robertson / Columbus Dispatch)

The Bengals most glaring need and to have a top center prospect available is ideal. Maybe a bit early for Price, but he will start immediately on a remade offensive line. — Paul Dehner, Cincinnati Enquirer

22. Buffalo Bills | Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

The Bills’ biggest defensive need is middle linebacker after losing Preston Brown to free agency. Vander Esch is an every-down tackler with a high ceiling. — Tim Graham, Buffalo News

23. New England Patriots | Tackle Connor Williams, Texas

(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The Patriots need a left tackle after losing Nate Solder, and Williams looks like a plug-and-play solution. He won the Longhorns’ starting left tackle job as a true freshman, and started 28 games there over three years. And, like Solder, Williams is a former tight end and a good athlete. — Ben Volin, Boston Globe

24. Carolina Panthers | Receiver D.J. Moore, Maryland

(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Despite general manager Marty Hurney addressing the wide receiver group in free agency, Cam Newton still could use another offensive weapon. Moore, who reminds some in Charlotte of Steve Smith, looks like he will make a big impact early as an explosive player. — Joe Person, Charlotte Observer

25. Tennessee Titans | Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

A versatile linebacker who can reinforce the run defense and rush from multiple spots is the first pick of the Mike Vrabel era. The Titans need a new generation of edge rushers, and they also need to be better inside where Avery Williamson left for the Jets. Evans can do a lot of different stuff in the multiple fronts the Titans intend to play. — Paul Kuharsky, The Zone/

26. Atlanta Falcons | Guard Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Wynn, who played left tackle for the Bulldogs last season, would help strengthen the interior of the pocket at guard. He’s also a strong run blocker and moves well enough to block in the outside-zone scheme. — D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

27. New Orleans Saints | Guard Will Hernandez, Texas El Paso

(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

The Saints are solid along the offensive line but Hernandez is too good to pass at this spot. The Saints subscribed to the “Best Player Available” strategy at a similar spot in the first round a year ago and landed tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who started all 16 games and was a key factor in their NFC South title. — Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Times-Picayune

28. Pittsburgh Steelers | Cornerback Jaire Alexander, Louisville

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

They are desperate to draft a replacement for inside linebacker Ryan Shazier but won’t reach for one in the first round. The team always can use good corners, and Alexander can return punts so Antonio Brown can stop doing that. — Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

29. Jacksonville Jaguars | Tight end Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

The Jaguars signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins in free agency but add Hurst - a Jacksonville native - to serve as equal parts in line blocker and receiver who can challenge defenses down the middle of the field. — Ryan O’Hallaran, Florida Times-Union

30. Minnesota Vikings | Tight end Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

In a deep offensive line class, the Vikings can afford to wait until the second round to grab a starter at right guard. Goedert is a skilled all-around tight end with the speed and athleticism to be a vertical threat. With high expectations for quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Vikings would love to add even more talent to his group of weapons. — Matthew Coller, ESPN

31. New England Patriots | Quarterback Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

While the Patriots need a left tackle to replace Nate Solder and more help at linebacker, they also have to find Tom Brady’s successor. And maybe sooner than expected. Rudolph fits the profile and is too good to pass up in this spot. — Karen Guregian, Boston Herald

32. Philadelphia Eagles | Running back Ronald Jones II, USC

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Eagles lost LeGarrette Blount in free agency, and Jay Ajayi is entering the final year of his contract, with suspect knees. Jones would be a home run threat to complement Corey Clement. — Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News