Free agency comes first, but NFL teams are already deep into their 2018 draft preparation. The college all-star games were last month, and the NFL Combine is two weeks away.
Click here for the Dolphins’ full stock of picks.
While free agent signings will change the needs for some teams and there’s always a possibility of trades going down, here’s an initial projection of how the draft will go:
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Browns’ best way out of being the NFL’s laughingstock is to get a quarterback, and Rosen is the most polished of the bunch.
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal
Some analysts believe Darnold is the most talented quarterback in this draft class, so he’s a fine consolation prize here.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
The Colts expect Andrew Luck to be return to being their franchise quarterback, taking them out of that market and heightening their interest in an elite pass rusher.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Running backs’ value has dropped over the last few years, but Barkley is a game-changer like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Quarterback would be the move for the Broncos in this spot if they aren’t able to secure Kirk Cousins or another proven player.
6. New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
With no obvious No. 1 quarterback in this year’s class, the Jets might end up feeling quite lucky to land Allen.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick came in as one of the top high school recruits in the nation and lived up to it, helping Alabama reach three national title games along the way.
8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Chicago’s offense is young, and its biggest question mark is the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. This will help.
9. Oakland Raiders*: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Oakland’s pass defense got lit up all last year, and no team had fewer interceptions.
9. San Francisco 49ers*: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
There’s a lot of debate about how the offensive tackles stack up this year, but McGlinchey is a prudent pick for San Francisco.
11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
If the Dolphins end up with a shot at one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft, they have to pounce. If they’re all gone, linebacker Roquan Smith makes sense.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith, 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, left school a year early after being named an all-America selection and winning the Butkus Award.
13. Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Redskins believe they’ve already upgraded their offense, and spending a first-rounder on their middling defense.
14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Cornerback has been a pressing need for the Packers the last several years, and Jackson was one of the best in the country last year.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
Arizona has a lot of problems and badly needs a quarterback. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, there’s not one worth taking in this range.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
Sutton is a big pass catcher who would fit well in Baltimore’s offense. The Ravens might also be thinking about a quarterback for the long term, but there isn’t one here.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The addition of Payne would give the Chargers one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the league with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram already in place.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Seattle faces questions in its secondary going into the upcoming season and has to plan for replacing Richard Sherman.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is possibly a top-10 talent, so even if defensive end isn’t Dallas’ biggest need, he’s too good to bypass.
20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
Defensive end is a clear need for the Lions, and they can get a guy here who posted 13.5 tackles for loss last year.
21. Buffalo Bills: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Buffalo is in a unique position with back-to-back picks and could always trade one of these. If the Bills keep both, they should use them to strengthen their defense.
22. Buffalo Bills: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
Landry would’ve likely been a first-round pick a year ago after setting a school record with 16.5 sacks, but opted to return for his senior season.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
The Rams are out to prove their 11-5 surprise last year wasn’t a fluke, and tightening up their pass defense is a smart play.
24. Carolina Panthers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Panthers have a lot of weapons offensively and need better blocking up front to make the most of them.
25. Tennessee Titans: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
It’ll be interesting to see whether the run on tight ends waits this long. If it does, that certainly helps the Dolphins’ chances of getting one at No. 42.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Hurst is better than the 26th overall prospect, but other teams’ needs will make him slide to the Falcons here.
27. New Orleans Saints: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Slot receiver is a position of interest for the Saints this offseason, and Kirk would be a good pick if they’re unable to lure someone like Jarvis Landry.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Like Hurst, James is probably better than this but teams picking ahead of the Steelers have other priorities. This should be a favorable landing spot for him anyway.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most electric players in the draft, and few teams need a jolt at quarterback more than Jacksonville.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G, Ohio State
The Vikings have been known as one of the league’s stronger offensive lines lately, but there was a dropoff last season. Price could play center as well.
31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Patriots have been in the Super Bowl three of the last four years and don’t have a ton of needs. Rudolph can be the eventual replacement for Tom Brady or a trade asset.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Philadelphia had one of the best linebacker corps in the NFL last season, but might not be able to keep it intact because of the salary cap. Evans should be ready to start right away.
* – The Nos. 9 and 10 slots will be determined by a coin flip between the Raiders and 49ers.
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