The 2018 NFL Draft order for non-playoff teams has been set. Below is the draft order and each team’s current positional needs.
#1: Cleveland Browns: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Defensive Back
Make no mistake about it. The Browns need help at every position…because well…there the Browns. If the Browns don’t get their franchise turned around after this draft, I’m not sure they’ll ever make the playoffs again. They have TWO top 5 picks and THREE second round picks. That’s an incredible amount of firepower to get things turned around. The Browns could select phenom running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State at #1. Barkley is considered the best player in the draft by multiple draft analysts. If the Browns pass on Barkley, they’ll have their selection of the best QB in the draft. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield are a few names that could end up as the #1 pick.
#2: New York Giants: Quarterback, Offensive Tackle, Linebacker
The writing is on the wall for Eli Manning. His time as a New York Giant is coming to an end and whether or not he’ll be back in 2018 is to be determined. Regardless, if he’s back or not they’ll have to draft a successor. The Giants will likely draft whichever QB, Cleveland doesn’t select. Sam Darnold & Josh Rosen are the two obvious choices here.
#3: Indianapolis Colts: Offensive Line, Running Back, EDGE
The Offensive Line has been a problem in Indianapolis for a long time now, so a Tackle or Guard like Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame isn’t out of the question…but this franchise is a mess. The Colts should take the best available player at #3 and a couple names to consider are RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State), DE Bradley Chubb (NC State), or DE Arden Key (LSU).
#4: Cleveland Browns (From HOU): Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, DB
If Cleveland decides against Barkley at #1 and takes a QB, they should take the best available player at #4. If they DO take Barkley at #1, the best thing to do here is take the best quarterback remaining on the board.
#5: Denver Broncos: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Wide Receiver
The Broncos wouldn’t have a top 5 pick in the 2018 draft if they’d have had a serviceable quarterback under center this past season. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler clearly aren’t the answer and Paxton Lynch is likely going to get one more shot at the gig to prove he’s worth keeping around. It wouldn’t surprise me to see John Elway bring in a veteran in free agency or one via trade, but if they don’t QB is no question the top need here. An upgrade to Menelik Watson is also in the cards. Watson was leading the NFL in sacks allowed before his injury in 2017.
#6: New York Jets: Quarterback, EDGE, Cornerback
This list goes on and on leading into this offseason. The New York Jets also need a quarterback this offseason…badly. Bryce Petty will never be more than a backup in this league and Christian Hackenberg shouldn’t even be on an NFL roster. By the time we kickoff the 2018 season, Josh McCown will be 39 years old. Could the Jets bring him back? Yes. But probably on a 1-year deal only. The Jets need to draft a QB for the future to learn under a veteran in 2018.
#7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE, Safety, Running Back
Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan. That’s all you need to know for this pick. The Buccaneers need more productivity from their pass rushers in 2018 if they want to compete in the NFC South in 2018. I’ve seen LSU’s DE Arden Key mocked the Bucs a ton at #7. That’s a perfect pick for Tampa.
#8: Chicago Bears: Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Tight End
The best thing you can do for a young quarterback like Mitchell Trubisky is getting him some weapons to work with. Who was Chicago’s best receiver this year? Kendall Wright? Now granted, Cameron Meredith is really good and will be back in 2018, but I still think the Bears need to give Trubisky more. Kevin White can’t walk out of his house in the morning without breaking a toe. Go WR, Chicago. I heard that kid from Alabama is pretty damn good.
#9: Oakland Raiders: EDGE, Defensive Tackle, Cornerback
Oakland’s offense didn’t meet expectations this year, but I firmly believe they lost a good majority of their games because of the defense. Khalil Mack is currently the only bright spot and he could use some help. I believe it’s in Oakland’s best interest to go best available defender at #9. Some names to look for might include CB Josh Jackson (Iowa), DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama), or MLB Roquan Smith (Georgia).
#10: San Francisco 49ers: EDGE, Offensive Line, Defensive Back
Jimmy Garappolo played the 49ers out of a top 5 pick. Extremely frustrating but also very encouraging at the same time. The 49ers have found their franchise quarterback. Now it’s time to build around him. The offensive line needs some improvement and the defense could also use some tweaking in a few areas as well. The 49ers could go best available player here, but one player I really like for San Francisco is Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson.
#11: Miami Dolphins: Offensive Line, Running Back, Cornerback
The Dolphins are one of those teams that are walking a fine line of full “tear down & rebuild” mode. Ryan Tannehill will be back in 2018 coming off of a torn ACL, but I still expect the Dolphins to select a QB at some point. Who knows what will happen with Jay Cutler and Matt Moore is a free agent. I really like CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State) or CB Josh Jackson (Iowa) here if one of them is still on the board. Byron Maxwell was cut so that lets you know where the Dolphins are at regarding the CB position.
#12: Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Tackle, Safety, EDGE
Andy Dalton missed Andrew Whitworth this season, badly. There’s no doubt about it. The Bengals top need at this moment in time is offensive tackle. It’s a good thing this is the year they need one because the 2018 Tackle class is terrific. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, and Texas’ Connor Williams are a few names to watch for at #12.
#13: Green Bay Packers: EDGE, Cornerback, Quarterback
The injuries are finally starting to catch up to Clay Matthews and I believe his time as a Packer is finally coming to an end. After Nick Perry, the Packers don’t have much for pass rush depth. I think that’s the likely scenario at #13. More offensive line depth or another weapon for Aaron Rodgers could also be in the works if the right player drops. Green Bay will also have to address the backup QB position later in the draft at some point because, well…Brett Hundley is garbage.
#14: Washington Redskins: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
Whether or not Kirk Cousins is back in Washington in 2018 is yet to be determined, but if he decides to leave the QB position will definitely be the top need here for the Redskins. I could also see a wide receiver at #14 or maybe even a Nose Tackle like Vita Vea from Washington. He’s a perfect fit in the Redskins 3-4 defense who struggled to stop the running game in 2017.
#15: Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Middle Linebacker
It really hurt the Cardinals to win as many games as they did this season. This team is 100% in full rebuild mode right now and they could really use a higher pick. I actually believe a trade out from this spot might be the most likely scenario for the Cards. They currently have no Head Coach, zero quarterbacks on the roster, and a #1 wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) who’s also pondering retirement. The quarterback position is the obvious top need but wherever the Cardinals pick, it’s in their best interest to just go “best player available”.
#16: Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receiver, Running Back, Tight End
The Ravens have no choice here but to take the best playmaker left on the board. The defense can keep them in games but the offensive line was injury tainted this past season and Joe Flacco’s weapons were very limited. If I had to put money on the table, I would guess the Ravens select the best wide receiver remaining on the board here. Breshad Perriman has been an extreme disappointment, Mike Wallace is a free agent, and Jeremy Maclin is a valid candidate to be cut. Courtland Sutton from SMU is an interesting prospect at #16.
#17: Los Angeles Chargers: Quarterback, Right Tackle, Safety
Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger, so a future replacement should be in the works because there isn’t one currently on the roster. Quarterback isn’t necessarily the position of need but if one falls this far the Chargers will definitely select them. Joe Barksdale is an awful right tackle and needs a replacement. The safety position could also use an upgrade. A position I’m surprised the team didn’t address in the draft last year. I’ve read a few articles stating that Florida State standout Derwin James could fall. If LA is smart, they make sure he doesn’t fall past #17.
#18: Seattle Seahawks: EDGE, Offensive Line, Safety
Oofta. Where do I begin? The dynasty in Seattle is over. Earl Thomas wants out. Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor are contemplating retirement and as good as Russell Wilson is, even he can’t single-handedly will them to the playoffs. I’m not sure what Seattle does here. Dan Schneider has always been a guy in the past who just selects the best player available but this team has too many needs right now. I’m curious to see what they do.
#19: Detroit Lions: Defensive Tackle, EDGE, Running Back
DE Ziggy Ansah is a free agent and DT Haloti Ngata isn’t just a free agent, but also contemplating retirement. The defensive line in Detroit needs help and that’s obvious. Detroit could take the best remaining defensive lineman on the board here or draft a running back like Derrius Guice out of LSU. Theo Riddick is a scat back and Ameer Abdullah will clearly never be able to handle a full workload. How long is Detroit going to go before they give Matthew Stafford a running game?
#20: Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Tackle, Cornerback, Guard
The pass rush in Dallas has finally been upgraded. Now it’s time to address the interior. I’d love to see a guy like Vita Vea from Washington get picked here, or maybe even Christian Wilkins from Clemson. A Cornerback could also be in the works. There are talks that Orlando Scandrick could be cut so a defensive back could suddenly become a need. Left Guard Jonathan Cooper is also a free agent. Was he good enough this past season for the team to bring him back? We’ll find out, but if not…a Guard is a good pick here as well. This is an extremely deep offensive interior class.