This is our ninth-annual backward mock draft. It's what it sounds like: What would the 2018 NFL Draft look like if the order were reversed? Who would the Eagles take with the first pick? My annual Backward NFL Mock Draft is listed below.
Philadelphia Eagles: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Eagles obviously wouldn't select a quarterback, so Saquon Barkley is the obvious choice. Sure, Jay Ajayi is on the roster, but he and Barkley would complement each other incredibly well. Plus, Ajayi is an impending free agent after 2018. Barkley would become the full three-down back in 2019 and beyond, but in the meantime, he'd be a dynamic weapon for Carson Wentz and Nick Foles to use in the passing game.
New England Patriots: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
There's speculation that the Patriots could move up for a quarterback, and there was another rumor that Josh Rosen is New England's preferred target. If the Patriots would move up for Rosen, they'd obviously select him with the second-overall pick in a world in which the best teams choose first.
Minnesota Vikings: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Vikings just gave Kirk Cousins a big contract, though perhaps they wouldn't have done that if they owned the No. 3 overall selection. In my real 2018 NFL Mock Draft, I have Minnesota picking guard Will Hernandez with the 30th-overall choice, and Quenton Nelson is a far superior prospect at the position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Jaguars also gave a contract to a veteran quarterback this offseason, but they can get out of it. It would be great if they found a legitimate starting quarterback, as Josh Allen would at least put full effort into his craft.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Ben Roethlisberger's stance on retirement changes like the wind. He has recently said he wants to play for three more seasons, but that opinion could alter next month. The Steelers should protect themselves with a future franchise signal-caller.
New Orleans Saints: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
I published a potential NFL Draft trade article where I had the Saints moving up 13 spots for a quarterback. They obviously wouldn't have to do that in a bizarre world where the best teams draft first. Baker Mayfield would be a great fit for Sean Payton's offense, thanks to his great accuracy and work ethic.
Atlanta Falcons: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C.State
This is an easy pick. The Falcons are taking the best player available, all while filling a need. Atlanta lost Adrian Clayborn to free agency, and Bradley Chubb would be a great replacement.
Tennessee Titans: Derwin James, S, Florida State
John Cyprien was a bust signing last year. Granted, he had issues with injuries, but it was a discouraging year for him nonetheless. Tennessee has to give him another chance because there are no cheap, better alternatives, but that's not the case in a world where the draft order is reversed.
Carolina Panthers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Panthers have needed a top-level cornerback ever since they got rid of Josh Norman. They'd have to trade up for Denzel Ward in real life, but they can just select him here without surrendering any compensation.
New England Patriots: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Patriots have had a weak linebacking corps for the past couple of seasons now. Dont'a Hightower is too injury-prone, so New England needs to really focus on the position in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Bills are trying like hell to trade up for a quarterback, so it would be illogical not to give them one at this juncture, even if it's Lamar Jackson. The Louisville product wouldn't be a bad option at No. 12 overall, so he makes sense at this spot.
Cincinnati Bengals: Vita Vea, NT, Washington
The Bengals need to address their offensive line, but Vita Vea is better than any blocker available at this juncture. It would make sense for Cincinnati to find a better option next to Geno Atkins, and Vea is the best player available.
Detroit Lions: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Lions could select the other blue-chip nose tackle. They have a big need at the position with Haloti Ngata gone, as their run defense fell apart when Ngata got hurt last season.
Dallas Cowboys: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
The Cowboys must address their secondary, and I imagine that they would be jealous of the Redskins, as I have them selecting Minkah Fitzpatrick in my real mock draft.
Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
I've seen numerous mock drafts with the Seahawks selecting Marcus Davenport. I have Davenport going off the board at No. 12 (Giants-Bills trade), but I think he would definitely make sense for Seattle if he fell to No. 18 overall.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
I have Mike McGlinchey being selected two spots earlier than where the Chargers are picking. McGlinchey would make a ton of sense for them, as they need a long-term left tackle to protect whomever their next quarterback is.