Mock draft: Sam Darnold should go No. 1 today
A look at Sam Farmer’s predictions on how the first round of the NFL draft should go today:
1. CLEVELAND; Sam Darnold, QB, USC; Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield are considerations here, but Darnold is the safest bet for a club that hasn’t gotten QB right.
2. NEW YORK GIANTS; Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State; The Giants, committed to 37-year-old Eli Manning, bypass a quarterback and take a player who can help them win right away.
3. NEW YORK JETS; Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma; If the Browns don’t take Mayfield No. 1, the Jets will make him the playmaking cornerstone of their franchise rebuild.
4. CLEVELAND; Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State; After taking Myles Garrett with the top pick last year, Browns can continue to turn up the heat on opposing quarterbacks.
5. DENVER; Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming; Allen has prototypical size and arm, and could go No. 1, but his 56% completion rate last season has to give NFL teams pause.
6. INDIANAPOLIS; Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame; The Colts need a defensive playmaker, yes, but Priority No. 1 has to be beefing up protection of besieged QB Andrew Luck.
7. TAMPA BAY; Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama; A shutdown corner would be big for the Buccaneers, especially in a division starring Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton.
8. CHICAGO; Vita Vea, DT, Washington; Nelson goes in this neighborhood of picks. If that guard is off the board, Bears could grab a middle-clogging defensive tackle.
9. SAN FRANCISCO; Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech; Reuben Foster fiasco has 49ers looking for a linebacker who can play both in the middle and slide outside. Edmunds is versatile.
10. OAKLAND; Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia; Although it would be somewhat surprising for Gruden to take a LB here, Smith is a special player. Colts could take him at 6.
11. MIAMI; Derwin James, SS, Florida State; Whereas safety isn’t a pressing need for Dolphins, James can line up all over a defense and has drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor.
12. BUFFALO; Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA; Entirely possible that Rosen goes in the first six picks, possibly with a team trading up. Bills would be lucky to get him here.
13. WASHINGTON; Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama; Evans would round out an athletic group of linebackers for Redskins. He can drop into coverage and wreak havoc in a backfield.
14. GREEN BAY; Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio; The Packers could go pass rusher or corner here. Davenport is raw, so he’s a risk, but he’s teeming with potential.
15. ARIZONA; Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville; Cardinals haven’t drafted QB earlier than the fourth round since taking Matt Leinart 10th in 2006. But Sam Bradford isn’t forever.
16. BALTIMORE; Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame; The Ravens need a receiver, and could even go quarterback, but first they grab Matt Ryan’s cousin to replace Austin Howard.
17. CHARGERS; DaRon Payne, DT, Alabama; Payne could be an eventual replacement in the middle for Corey Liuget, suspended for the first four games of the season.
18. SEATTLE; Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State; If Ward slides, he would be a steal for a defense looking to create a Legion of Boom 2.0. Offensive line and RB are possibilities.
19. DALLAS; Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama; With Dez Bryant gone, the Cowboys need to give Dak Prescott another sure-handed target. Ridley is the best of this bunch.
20. DETROIT; Harold Landry, DE, Boston College; Landry is reunited with his old position coach, Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, and bumps up the Detroit pass rush.
21. CINCINNATI; Billy Price, C, Ohio State; Price could get off to a slow start because of an injury at the combine, but he’s the best center in this class and fills a Bengals need.
22. BUFFALO; Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State; Having addressed quarterback with their first pick, the Bills turn their attention to defense and ramping up their pass rush.
23. NEW ENGLAND; Kolton Miller, T, UCLA; Miller is raw but has excellent size and athleticism. The Patriots need a left tackle after losing stalwart Nate Solder.
24. CAROLINA; D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland; Moore could be the newest version of a Steve Smith for the Panthers, who need more receiving options for Cam Newton.
25. TENNESSEE; Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; The son of a Navy Seal, Bryan is a relentless pass rusher who could fortify a Tennessee defensive front that needs some help.
26. ATLANTA; Isaiah Wynn, Georgia; A left tackle in college, the versatile 6-3, 313-pound Wynn would move inside for Falcons and give the running game a boost.
27. NEW ORLEANS; Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina; A onetime pitcher drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 24-year-old Hurst could be a receiver and solid blocker for Saints.
28. PITTSBURGH; Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville; Alexander could both play corner and return punts for Steelers, who are also looking for a linebacker who can replace Ryan Shazier.
29. JACKSONVILLE; Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida; Jaguars could take a receiver or a tight end such as Dallas Goedert, but room for a corner even on that star-studded defense.
30. MINNESOTA; Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC; The Vikings could take a guard or cornerback here, but the raw Nwosu has rare pass-rushing skills.
31. NEW ENGLAND; Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State; Tom Brady might feel like he can play forever. But he’ll be 41 this season, and Patriots have to find an heir apparent.
32. PHILADELPHIA; Derrius Guice, RB, Louisiana State; With LaGarrette Blount gone, and Jay Ajayi in the final year of his deal, the Eagles can add a guy who can both bruise and cruise.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer
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