The Western Michigan left tackle is the dark horse first-round offensive tackle prospect in the 2018 draft class.
He has NFL size, length, athleticism and plenty of collegiate experience. He dominated the MAC conference, was impressive against USC early in the season and held his own against an underrated Michigan State front the following week. With more strength, he could be an outstanding tackle in the pros for a long time.
Below is the current draft order, which is a coin-flip away from being 100 percent set.
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Yes, Darnold has a technical flaw to work through regarding his delivery. But based on what he was capable of with that flaw in college, his overall talent, and apparent passion for football make him too enticing to not be picked by the Browns.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Just a guess here — Rosen wants to play for the Giants. With New York City media. With routine Sunday Night Football games against the Cowboys. He’s eerily similar to Eli Manning when the veteran entered the NFL, so Rosen could learn a lot from him.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Colts need wide-ranging improvements on defense, particularly up front. Chubb is a three-down game-changer who’ll instantly help Indianapolis fluster the likes of Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota in the division.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. The surprise of the top 10. In this scenario, with Jackson, GM John Dorsey sees a lot of Marcus Peters, the star cornerback he picked in Kansas City in 2015. Jackson is a perimeter cover man with size, length, athleticism, and the ball skills to create big plays on defense for Cleveland.
5. Denver Broncos
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. Where does Fitzpatrick line up in the pros? In a game that’s becoming more and more “positionless” the Alabama stud will acclimate quickly to the NFL level. If the Broncos cut Aqib Talib, it saves the team $11 million off the 2018 cap. Fitzpatrick may be viewed as a safety by many, but he undoubtedly has the skills to thrive in a predominantly off-man role.
6. New York Jets
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. I expect the Jets to be in on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes yet, like seemingly everyone else, at this point, I think he’ll sign in Denver. Mayfield was less improvisational in 2017 than he was in his first two seasons with the Sooners and has a personality that’ll resonate with the fan base in New York City.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Buccaneers would’ve jumped all over Chubb had he fallen to No. 7. They’re ecstatic with James in this situation though. Similar to Fitzpatrick, James can play any position in the secondary, and he’ll make his mark often as a linebacker against spread formations.
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The stars seem to be aligning — yes, in February — for this seemingly ideal match to come to fruition on draft night. The Bears must be aggressive in building around Mitchell Trubisky, so they nab the first non-quarterback on the offensive side of the ball.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. A few teams — like the Giants and Browns — will consider Barkley in the early stages of the draft because he’s a special talent. But the insane depth of his running back class pushes him to No. 9 overall and a perfect situation with Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.
10. Oakland Raiders
11. Miami Dolphins
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. The Dolphins are thrilled with the way the board fell, as they’re able to grab Nelson, who, to some, is the best guard prospect to enter the draft in a while. Miami needs to bolster its blocking up front. The offensive line has been a glaring issue for some time now.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Another team with an offensive line in somewhat of disarray, McGlinchey is a super-experienced tackle who’ll boost the run game and will show leaky pass-protection only against smaller speed-rushers on the edge.
13. Washington Redskins
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds has a chance to change the way the traditional linebacker is viewed in the NFL with his off-the-chart combination of size and athletic talents. With an underrated defensive line in front of him, Edmunds could flourish right away in Washington.
14. Green Bay Packers
Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP. The Packers undoubtedly know the impact quality guards can have on a team, as their offense ran most efficiently when T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton dominated on the interior in Green Bay. Some will see this as a bit early for Hernandez. After the first month of the season, it’ll be obvious why the Packers picked him.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. New head coach Steve Wilks spent the past seven years in Carolina with Cam Newton, and while Allen isn’t as impressive as a prospect as Newton was in 2011, there are certainly parallels to be drawn between the two relating to size, arm strength, and athleticism.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. After the Ravens tinker with the idea of a running back or wideout here, the front office decides to go offensive line to protect Joe Flacco and bolster the run game. Brown can be a devastating right tackle from Day 1.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The Chargers boast the best edge-rushing duo in the AFC — and possibly in all of football — with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Payne would be an excellent addition to what would become a ridiculous defensive front in Los Angeles.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Offensive line is the trendy mock pick for the Seahawks. How about wide receiver? They rightfully love Doug Baldwin but have mostly utilized smaller, speedier wideouts for Russell Wilson. With Sutton they add gargantuan size to the receiver group and provide Wilson with a serious red-zone threat if Jimmy Graham isn’t re-signed.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. Evans may not have the speed to be an All-Pro type in the NFL, yet his play-recognition skills are sharp, and he’s everywhere on runs between the tackles. He’s the type of player Dallas needs on defense for the long-term.
20. Detroit Lions
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. The Lions get a true, 20-carry-per-game feature back in Guice, who’s a better inside runner than Barkley and rushes with more power and violent jukes at the second and third level of the defense.
21. Buffalo Bills
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. The Bills don’t get overaggressive with the quarterbacks in this class, stay put, and get the signal-caller who checks their boxes in Rudolph, an experienced pocket passer with nice downfield touch.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. Buffalo’s defensive line is in dire need of reconstruction. Even if Kyle Williams plays one more season, the Bills must add talented one-gap players up front. Hurst is the premier penetrating defensive tackle in this class.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. There’s a good chance the Rams let Robert Quinn hit the free-agent market, so they grab Davenport, the similarly twitchy and rangy defensive end, to wreak havoc in Wade Phillips’ defense.
24. Carolina Panthers
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Carolina needs to find a Ted Ginn type to accentuate Cam Newton’s arm strength in Norv Turner’s vertical passing offense. Washington is the preeminent deep threat in this class, and he can move the chains if needed.
25. Tennessee Titans
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. The Titans need an infusion of youth in their pass rush, and Okoronkwo has the most dynamic speed-rusher His arsenal of counter moves is developed well beyond his years, and he’s athletic enough to drop into coverage.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. On the outside of their defense, the Falcons are set. More work needs to be done on the interior. Vea devours running backs on inside runs and has surprising pass-rush ability for his size.
27. New Orleans Saints
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Remember the days of Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham together? Of course you do. They were ridiculous. Goedert isn’t exactly Graham athletically. He’s not far off though. He’ll dominate down the seam and in the red zone.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Steelers need to address their secondary in this draft, and Ward at No. 28 overall is a fine way to start. If he were taller, he’d be a top-15 lock, and he may ultimately go that high.
29. Jackonsville Jaguars
Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia. To take the next step in the AFC, the Jaguars have to fortify the blocking in front of Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette. Wynn can play tackle if needed but will succeed as a guard instantly. He plays with outstanding leverage and has the athleticism to mirror pass-rushers.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. If Williams is healthy and some 2017 hiccups are cleaned up, the Vikings very well could land the steal of the first round in this scenario. He’s a young, stellar pass protector.
31. New England Patriots
Taven Bryan, DL, Florida. Bill Belichick loves versatile defensive linemen, and that’s precisely what he’d get with Bryan, a 6-4, nearly 300-pound prospect with refined hand usage and exceptional athletic talents.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Okorafor is in the mold of a franchise left tackle, and he has traits that suggest he’ll become exactly that. If he adds point-of-attack strength, he’ll be a monster in the NFL.