*** 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT (5 rounds) updated Jan. 24. This mock draft will be updated occasionally. Check out old versions of this 2018 NFL Mock Draft in the archived mock section. Follow @walterfootball for NFL Draft updates. ***
Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
A quarterback appears to be the most popular choice, but it doesn't make logical sense to take a signal-caller at No. 1 overall, given that Cleveland has the fourth-overall selection as well. It makes zero sense to go quarterback, because if the Browns take Saquon Barkley, they're guaranteed to land two of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield at No. 4. Barkley, meanwhile, could be gone by then. He is the best player in this class, and he has a legitimate chance to be chosen first overall (or second, if the Giants and Browns flip selections). He's drawn comparisons to Marshall Faulk, and he's unlikely to get past the Colts at No. 3 overall, barring a trade.
Besides, there's no consensus top player at the position. Darnold had a down year. Rosen has said that he doesn't want to play for the Browns. There have been rumors linking the Browns to Josh Allen, but I'm not sure I quite buy those yet.
I think it's possible that the Browns address the position elsewhere, perhaps acquiring A.J. McCarron, Kirk Cousins or Nick Foles. If they do that, they'll want to pair that signal-caller with an elite play-making weapon, and the first-overall choice would be obvious then.
New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Eli Manning just turned 37, and he's in obvious decline. Pat Shurmur has indicated that he wants to keep Manning on for one more year, but he'll want his own franchise quarterback for 2019 and beyond.
Josh Rosen seems like he'd be the consensus top quarterback available, though Sam Darnold might have something to say about that. I could even see the Giants flipping picks with the Browns, like the 49ers and Bears did last year, so that the Broncos, Jets, Cardinals, etc. don't jump past them for Rosen. That said, it would be ideal if they love two quarterbacks equally so they don't have to move anywhere.
NFL coaches and owners are wary of the sort of things Rosen has discussed to the media, and his open views could hurt him. Scouts have told us that his teammates don't like him either, so that's a major strike against him. And for the cherry on top, even if his high school coach criticized him. Rosen has been prolific in some big games this year, so that could push him into the top spot, but as Charlie Campbell reported, two NFL general managers have expressed major concern about Rosen.
Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C.State
Indianapolis has some nice edge rushers in Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, but neither is the elite talent Bradley Chubb happens to be. With Saquon Barkley off the board, Chubb is one of the two best players available. The Colts don't need a safety (Minkah Fitzpatrick), and it might be too early to select a guard (Quenton Nelson), so Chubb makes the most sense at No. 3 overall.
Chubb steadily moved up my mock drafts during the season. At 6-4, 275, Chubb has a great blend of size and speed, and he's been dominant this season. There's some talk that Chubb is viewed as the top defensive prospect in NFL circles.
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
I wrote earlier that the Browns could address their quarterback woes prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. Acquiring A.J. McCarron or Nick Foles seems realistic. Kirk Cousins, less so, as reports have come out speculating that he doesn't want to go to Cleveland. What could also happen is that the Browns wait on a quarterback until No. 4, which would be the smart decision because two of Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield will be available.
Mayfield has to be in the discussion here, as there are two references to him being linked to the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft Rumors page, one of which is 100-percent non-smoke. It would not be surprising to see Mayfield chosen over some of the other quarterbacks in this class, as they all have flaws. Mayfield has his issues as well - mechanics, anticipation - but he'll win teams over with his leadership ability and upside.
Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Broncos are one of the front-runners to acquire Kirk Cousins. John Elway is going to push hard for him, and Cousins has expressed desire to play there. This mock draft will assume that Cousins goes to Denver.
If quarterback is out of the picture at No. 5 overall, I believe this pick will be Quenton Nelson. This may seem a bit too early for a guard, but Nelson is the best player in this class behind Saquon Barkley. Besides, the Redskins used the fifth-overall selection on Brandon Scherff several years ago, and that panned out. Denver desperately needs to improve its blocking, and Nelson is the only prospect worth taking at No. 5.
New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Jets will be looking for a new quarterback this offseason. Perhaps they'll attempt to obtain Kirk Cousins - they certainly have the money to do so - but they could also target one of the quarterbacks in this class. Their preference could be Josh Allen, as Charlie Campbell points out in his Senior Bowl Rumor Mill.
Josh Allen has to really work on his accuracy, mechanics and field vision, but he has top-five overall physical talent, and he has the type of size and arm strength that general manager Mike Maccagnan likes out of his quarterbacks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
There's a ton of pressure on the Buccaneers to win this season, and for them to do so, they'll need Jameis Winston to finally play up to his potential. He'll be able to do that if properly protected, and Quenton Nelson is the top offensive lineman in this class by a mile. I believe he'll be the pick if he's available unless Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb slip by some miracle.
Nelson is off the board, however, so the Buccaneers can look to address their woeful secondary. Help is needed at both cornerback and safety, and Minkah Fitzpatrick can play both positions. Plus, he's arguably the best player available.
Chicago Bears: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Calvin Ridley will be mocked here, but I think this would be too early to take him. Chicago may opt to take a superior prospect and go after some receivers later. The Bears need some youth at cornerback, as Prince Amukamara doesn't seem like he's in the long-term plans. He's an impending free agent anyway.
Team sources have raved about Joshua Jackson, and there's a chance he's the first cornerback selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers looked like they landed their stud linebacker for the next decade in Reuben Foster, but now it's uncertain if he'll ever play for them again. He's been arrested twice in the span of a month, one of which was for allegedly dragging his injured girlfriend. He'll be suspended for six games at the very least, and he could face jail time. The 49ers may opt to cut him.
San Francisco may consider a linebacker here in the wake of Foster's troubles. If so, both Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds make sense. Compared to Anthony Barr by some, Edmunds is a very athletic linebacker with great instincts.
Pick change; previously Roquan Smith, LB
Oakland Raiders: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
The Raiders need to upgrade every area of their defense. Cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle are seen as the big problem areas, but Oakland also needs a dynamic edge rusher to start across from Khalil Mack.
Jon Gruden could see Marcus Davenport as his next Simeon Rice. Davenport is a highly athletic edge rusher who has been generating tons of buzz lately. He could be a top-10 pick with a strong pre-draft process, and he's off to a good start by performing well at the Senior Bowl.
Miami Dolphins: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Cornerback is a big problem area for the Dolphins. Byron Maxwell was released, so Miami will need to find a replacement. It helps that the Dolphins are getting one of the top players available with this pick.
It's going to be a close call as to which corner is selected first between Joshua Jackson and Denzel Ward. Both could be taken near the bottom of the top 10.
Cincinnati Bengals: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Tackle Mike McGlinchey is a strong possibility, but Derwin James seems more like the sort of pick the Bengals would make. Besides, it's not like James wouldn't fill a need. Cincinnati's defense has not been the same since losing Reggie Nelson, so an upgrade at safety would take the stop unit back to a playoff-caliber level.
Washington Redskins: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Redskins looked completely helpless trying to stop Alfred Morris in a must-win game the week after Thanksgiving. They need to bolster their defensive front, and Da'Ron Payne happens to be one of the best players available.
Green Bay Packers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Packers have needed a stud inside linebacker for a long time. Ted Thompson was always reluctant to use a high resource on one, but perhaps the new general manager will approach the situation differently.
Roquan Smith had an incredible season; he's both fast and instinctive, and he thrives in both coverage and run support.
Pick change; previously Tremaine Edmunds, LB
Arizona Cardinals: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Cardinals are desperate for a starting quarterback, so they could be forced into this pick if they don't find a viable replacement for the retired Carson Palmer prior to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sam Darnold was considered to be the favorite to be taken first overall for a while, and that could still be the case. However, we've seen USC quarterbacks slip before, and Darnold could be the next to do so. He struggled this past season, and there was speculation among teams that he would return to school. Darnold surprised them by declaring. I've heard some concern about the bright lights of the NFL could be too much for Darnold, so it wouldn't surprise me if he dropped a bit.
Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Ravens need some major offensive help, and I've had them taking Calvin Ridley for the past billion updates. Ridley still makes sense, but it might be a bit too early for him, and I think Baltimore could go in a different direction.
The offensive line must be upgraded, and Orlando Brown would start immediately at right tackle, which was a big problem area for Baltimore. Brown would continue the legacy of his late, great father, who was a dominant presence for Baltimore in the late 90s.