One of the highlights of the US sporting calendar, the NFL Draft, begins on Thursday and promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory.
At least eight teams could be in the market for a quarterback in a draft
where five are regarded as first-round talents.
The stage is therefore set for a chaotic opening round in Dallas, with teams likely to try to jump ahead of each other to get in the best position to select a quarterback.
That clamour for quarterbacks will push a host of defensive talent down the board to teams fortunate enough to already have an answer under center. In a draft where there is also an exceptional running back prospect in the mix, we try to predict the first round. 1. Cleveland Browns - QB Sam Darnold, USC: Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are seemingly also in the discussion for the Browns, but Cleveland instead look to the USC gunslinger to turn the franchise around. 2. New York Giants - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State: The Giants seem convinced Eli Manning can still succeed at the highest level. That's up for debate, but Barkley is one of the best running backs in a generation and should be a hit in the Big Apple. 3. New York Jets - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: Speaking of players who should take to the New York spotlight. The brash Oklahoma star can make things happen with both his arm and his legs and can rescue the Jets from QB mediocrity. 4. Cleveland Browns - EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State: The Browns spent last year's top choice on another edge rusher in Myles Garrett. He and Chubb would form a frightening tandem. 5. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Denver Broncos) - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming: The Bills are reportedly enamoured with the most polarising player in the draft. In this scenario they send picks 12 and 22 to the Broncos to land him. 6. Indianapolis Colts - G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame: Protecting Andrew Luck should be the Colts' top priority. Nelson is a near flawless prospect at guard and can be a foundation of their offensive line for the next decade. 7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - S Derwin James, Florida State: A continually disappointing Bucs defense is boosted by one of the best athletes in the class who has the ability to excel at safety and linebacker. 8. Chicago Bears - LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech: Edmunds is just 19 and has already demonstrated his ability to be a force as a run defender and a pass rusher. This selection should delight Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
@VT_Football LB @maine_savage23 is an absolute difference maker and sets the tone for the #LPD . #Hokies pic.twitter.com/Yc2Oa3hXPt
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) December 13, 2017 17. Los Angeles Chargers - T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame: Offensive line help is an absolute must for a Chargers team that has for too long wasted continually brilliant quarterback Philip Rivers. 18. Seattle Seahawks - CB Josh Jackson, Iowa: The ball-hawking Jackson fills the void left by Richard Sherman, slotting straight in as a press corner who is a great fit for their cover 3 scheme. 19. Dallas Cowboys - WR Courtland Sutton, SMU: Dak Prescott's receiving options look very thin with Dez Bryant now gone from Dallas. Enter Sutton. 20. Detroit Lions - EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA: The Lions hired as a defensive coach in Matt Patricia and give him extra help in the form of Davenport, who has the potential to form a devastating duo with Ezekiel Ansah. 21. Cincinnati Bengals - C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas: A Bengals team in need of help on the interior of the offensive line lands a center many view as the best in the draft. 22. Denver Broncos (projected trade with Buffalo Bills) - G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia: The Broncos need help at both guard and tackle. Wynn can play both. 23. San Francisco 49ers (projected trade with New England Patriots) - EDGE Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: Edge rusher is the 49ers' most pressing need, they bank on the upside of the best athlete at the position. 24. Carolina Panthers - S Justin Reid, Stanford: The Panthers severely lack talent at the safety position and held a visit with Reid, a ball hawk on the back end with five interceptions in 2017. 25. Tennessee Titans - EDGE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State: More edge talent gets pushed up the board as the Titans land a defensive end who impressively combines power and athleticism. 26. Atlanta Falcons - DT Taven Bryan, Florida: The Falcons lost Dontari Poe in the offseason and replace him with a defensive tackle adept at creating disruption with his burst off the ball. 27. New Orleans Saints - TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: It's time for the Saints to finally replace Jimmy Graham, they look to Goedert to do that. 28. Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama: Ryan Shazier's injury has left linebacker as a necessity for the Steelers. Evans, the best pass-rushing linebacker in the draft, fits the bill. 29. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR D.J. Moore, Maryland: The Jaguars can feel a lot better about letting Allen Robinson go by adding the most complete receiver in the draft. 30. Minnesota Vikings - G Will Hernandez, UTEP: If the Vikings have a weakness, it's their offensive line. Slotting Hernandez next to talented center Pat Elflein would give that group a much better look. 31. San Francisco 49ers (projected trade with Patriots) - C James Daniels, Iowa: The 49ers spent big on center Weston Richburg in free agency but Daniels is versatile enough to play alongside him at guard while acting as insurance for Richburg. 32. Philadelphia Eagles - RB Sony Michel, Georgia: Jay Ajayi cannot carry the load by himself. Michel can win with power and elusiveness and should prove an extremely useful weapon for Carson Wentz.