2018 mock NFL draft: Giants replace Manning with Rosen
Turnarounds sparked by young star quarterbacks Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and -- prior to his season-ending injury -- Deshaun Watson could be all the encouragement QB-needy clubs need in 2018, with five passers projected to be among the first 32 picks in this updated first-round mock draft.
Cleveland's latest swing at problematic skill positions is arguably the biggest story, but don't look past big changes projected with the Giants, Jaguars, Lions and Seahawks -- each of those teams is hoping for a playmaker to add immediate juice on offense.
1. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California*: The Browns' failed attempt to trade for Cincinnati Bengals' backup AJ McCarron says all you need to know about the regime's feelings for the quarterbacks on the roster. Unless DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan or Cody Kessler (93rd overall in 2016) make significant strides the rest of the way this season, Cleveland's priority will be evaluating the top quarterbacks yet again. Darnold, just a redshirt sophomore, is by no means a flawless prospect, but he possesses the physical tools and intangibles scouts look for in a franchise quarterback.
2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State*: The bold trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo may very well help the 49ers win enough games to earn a pick outside of the top five. If selecting here, however, pairing an explosive talent like Barkley with the new franchise quarterback would give Kyle Shanahan the offense to compete in the NFC West.
3. NEW YORK GIANTS: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA*: With the stunning benching of Eli Manning, it is now painfully obvious that the Giants are rebuilding from the floor up. The club may look at other positions if either Geno Smith or Davis Webb impress in their 2017 auditions, but it would be hard to pass on a talent like Rosen, whose big arm and personality could make him a perfect fit for Broadway.
4. INDIANPOLIS COLTS: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama*: Surrendering an NFL-worst 27.3 points a game over the first three months of the season, GM Chris Ballard will be looking for an immediate impact defender. After the surprising release of Vontae Davis in November, the Colts will be looking for a new sheriff in the secondary, which is precisely what Fitzpatrick - versatile, physical, fast and passionate - could provide.
5. DENVER BRONCOS: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: Given Denver's struggles on offense this season, it seems obvious that John Elway will be focusing on that side of the ball with the club's first pick. Barring an aggressive trade or one of the top quarterbacks falling in his lap, however, Elway may instead opt to add a complementary threat to Von Miller. While perhaps lacking blue-chip explosiveness, Chubb is the most pro-ready edge rusher in this class, demonstrating the combination of initial quickness, strength and technique to make an immediate impact.
6. CHICAGO BEARS: Connor Williams, OT, Texas*: The brave trade up for Mitchell Trubisky last season only works if the Bears are just as aggressive in filling the club's other shortcomings, including at wide receiver and left tackle, where Charles Leno remains overmatched against the top edge rushers. With no clear-cut top 10 caliber wideouts available in this draft, the Bears go for the relatively sure thing in Williams, who already has declared he will skip his senior season.
7. NEW YORK JETS: Arden Key, OLB, LSU*: The Jets boast one of the league's most gifted defensive lines but lack a disruptive element off the edge. With head coach Todd Bowles prioritizing athleticism and versatility, as well as the selection of former LSU star Jamal Adams a year ago, the Jets will have better insight than most as to how best to "unlock" Key's undeniable upside.
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (from HOUSTON TEXANS): Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist: Poor play at quarterback certainly plays a role, but the Browns' receiving corps is lacking in both production and raw talent. Barring a career revitalization from oft-suspended wideout Josh Gordon, Cleveland will once again be looking for help at split end, the key receiver position in Hue Jackson's offense. Sutton is not universally regarded as a top 10 talent but his size and production could earn high marks from the Browns.
9. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson*: Given the raw talent, it is hard to fathom that a defensive line as individually talented as Tampa Bay's could possibly be dead last in the NFL with just 15 sacks through 11 games this season. Wilkins has the initial quickness and tenacity to be a perfect complement to star Gerald McCoy on the inside.
10. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Derwin James, SS, Florida State*: Miami's secondary is a mess, surrendering an eye-popping 22 touchdowns while recording just four interceptions through the first three months of the season. James has the instincts and positional versatility to add the playmaking flair in the secondary this team lacks.
11. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama*: Few teams reload along the line of scrimmage as consistently as the Bengals, and Payne possesses undeniable ability to plug rushing lanes -- always an issue in the rough and tumble AFC North.
12. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming*: The direction the Cardinals go with this pick may very well be decided by whether or not 65-year-old Bruce Arians elects to return next season as head coach. Allen is quite raw and has struggled in high-profile matchups throughout his career, suggesting that he needs time. Quarterbacks with his raw talent don't last long on draft day and the strong-armed and athletic Allen is an intriguing schematic fit in Arians' aggressive downfield passing attack.
13. DALLAS COWBOYS: Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan: Injuries and suspensions have robbed the Cowboys of some of their more talented defensive linemen, leaving coordinator Rod Marinelli little to work with. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Hurst may lack ideal size but his quickness, tenacity and versatility suggest NFL success.
14. OAKLAND RAIDERS: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn*: Despite multiple draft picks invested in the position, the Raiders' secondary remains a quagmire with an NFL-worst 19-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the first three months of the season. Big, athletic and physical, Davis possesses the traits scouts covet and he appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential.
15. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame*: As long as the relatively cement-footed Philip Rivers remains at quarterback, adding beef up front will be an annual priority. A massive mauler in the mold of his Notre Dame predecessor, Zack Martin (now a Pro Bowler in Dallas), Nelson is one of the rare interior linemen athletic enough to warrant early first-round consideration.
16. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama*: Given their needs elsewhere and the recognizable names already on the roster at receiver, it might seem blasphemous to suggest Ted Thompson would consider another one here. Thompson is well known for sticking to his board, however, and given the durability concerns for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, adding a silky smooth route-runner like Ridley could be this year's first-round surprise.
17. WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia*: Washington's big offseason decisions may start and end with Kirk Cousins but finding new options for the quarterback on defense will also be a priority with no less than five traditional linebackers set for free agency. Smith lacks ideal bulk but his speed to the flanks and in coverage makes him an ideal new-age linebacker.
18. BUFFALO BILLS: Vita Vea, DT, Washington*: The Bills have a sizable hole inside now that Marcell Dareus has been shipped to Jacksonville. The 6-4, 344 Vea remains technically raw but he possesses the power and athleticism to be a difference-maker.
19. DETROIT LIONS: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU*: Ready for a jaw-dropping statistic? The Lions have not had a single running back rush for at least 100 yards since Reggie Bush accomplished the feat back in 2013. Guice has the build, power and burst to be a bell-cow back in the NFL.
20. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Protecting quarterback Russell Wilson got easier with the trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown, but the lack of a consistent running game remains a problem. Chubb possesses the combination of size, power, light feet and toughness Seattle prioritizes at the position.
21. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M*: Despite investing in multiple draft picks and free agents, the Ravens' receiving corps remains essentially a black hole for production with Baltimore ranking last in passing through the first three months of the season. Teams could be gun shy about selecting a receiver in the first round given how much last year's class has struggled, but Kirk has the raw athleticism to become Joe Flacco's big-play specialist.
22. BUFFALO BILLS (from KANSAS CITY CHIEFS): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville*: Adding a talent like Kelvin Benjamin will surely help, but the Bills may not be finishing addressing a poor passing attack. Jackson plays a similar style as Tyrod Taylor, relying upon his legs as much as his arm or eyes. He is younger, cheaper and has a higher upside, however -- characteristics the Bills may consider with two first-round picks this season due to last year's trade with Kansas City.
23. ATLANTA FALCONS: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford*: With Dontari Poe on a one-year deal, the Falcons are likely to be looking for youth and size along the defensive line this spring. At 6-3, 290 pounds, Phillips is not nearly as big as Poe but he plays with the instincts, technique and motor that head coach Dan Quinn will appreciate.
24. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma*: As long as Cam Newton is taking snaps in Carolina, the focus should be on adding massive maulers for the running game. They don't come much bigger than the 6-7, 345-pound Sooners star, the son of the late Cleveland Browns' and Baltimore Ravens' standout tackle, Orlando "Zeus" Brown.
25. TENNESSEE TITANS: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State: The Titans boast one of the better young tackle tandems in the league with Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin but may consider reinforcements on the inside, especially given the team's focus on the running game. Rankin possesses the build, physicality and temperament to help at virtually any position up front.
26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Despite their impressive turnaround this season, the Jaguars appear to be winning games despite Blake Bortles rather than because of him, potentially making quarterback a top priority this offseason. Given his flashy personality and lack of size, Mayfield isn't for everyone, but he'd have a relatively soft landing with the Jaguars given the running game and defense already in the fold.
27. LOS ANGELES RAMS: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State*: With top cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner and Nickell Robey-Coleman each in the final year of their respective contracts, the Rams may need to take a look at the future. McFadden possesses the athleticism, size and playmaking ability to contribute immediately.
28. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson*: The Saints have consistently gambled on upside with their first-round picks and this selection of the 6-5, 265-pound redshirt sophomore would be no different. Overshadowed, at times, at Clemson, Ferrell led the club in QB pressures in his first full season of action and may be just scratching the surface of his potential.
29. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Marcus Allen, FS, Penn State: Veteran free safety Mike Mitchell has done a solid job up the middle, but he is also one of the pricier veterans on a squad hoping to ink star running back Le'Veon Bell to a long-term deal in the offseason. Allen, instinctive and a reliable open-field tackler, would be a cheaper, younger option worthy of late first round consideration.
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: As long as Mike Zimmer is coaching the team, size and physicality will be a premium for future Vikings. McGlinchey lacks the athleticism to wow scouts during pre-draft workouts, but an old school coach like Zimmer will appreciate McGlinchey's size (6-7, 312), toughness and consistency.
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State*: The ageless Tom Brady and New England's offense seem to be chugging away despite plenty of changes, but the defense is a different story, surrendering a non-Bill Belichick-like 385.5 yards per game, good for 30th in the NFL. Ward lacks ideal size, but he's cat-quick in coverage and possesses the ball-skills to make opponents pay.
32. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama*: The Eagles boast one of the more complete rosters in the NFL but lack a true intimidator in the back end. Harrison remains better against the run than the pass at this point but he could be afforded a "redshirt" year with veterans Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod already in place in Philadelphia.
--Rob Rang is a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a collaboration of The Sports Xchange and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.