The 2018 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and as the rumor mill continues to heat up, my family decides to take a trip to London and Paris. Nonetheless, the show must go on, and while I couldn’t update my weekly Deep Route Draft Notebook, I did spit out a projected look at how the top ten could turn out in late April. Again, I would have done the whole first round but this time change is really screwing with me. Anyway, I’m basically using my lack of sleep for an excuse to only look at the first ten picks, as well as a bonus team. I compiled all the information and rumors I have gathered over the past couple months while giving my own opinion as to how the start of the draft could shake out. Of course, anything can happen in the span of a month, but here are the most realistic possibilities for each team as of now.

Via Twitter: sam_darnold14

1. Cleveland Browns – It is no secret that this team needs (and likely wants) a quarterback with this pick. I am not buying Tyrod Taylor as the savior of Cleveland, but a third round pick for a ‘bridge’ quarterback does seem suspicious. All the signs still point to Sam Darnold as the first overall pick, though some people claim it is all just a smokescreen for the Browns to take Josh Allen. Why not take it a bit further and say the Browns are just trying to build up this pick in an effort to acquire more picks? Anything is possible in Cleveland, and while Sonny Weaver Jr. might pull the trigger, I bet John Dorsey makes the safe pick and grabs his actual quarterback of the future. Some might think that the Browns take a BPA approach (Best Player Available) and take Saquon Barkley, which is reasonable, but no position can alter the fortunes of a franchise like a quarterback can. Now, I’m as big a Barkley fan as anyone, but a quarterback has to be the move here. Prediction: Sam Darnold

2. New York Giants – I talked about the Giants’ interesting situation in my last article and a week later, nothing has really changed. They can still grab their franchise quarterback or just take the best player available. However, this team has way too many holes to take a non-quarterback here; the Giants need a massive overhaul and there are only two options that can achieve that. The first is obviously drafting the heir to Eli Manning (I hear they favor Josh Rosen) and hoping that the new quarterback’s success can launch the team into a new era of dominance. The other option, which is starting to grow on me, is trading this pick for more picks. Like I said, the Giants need as much new talent as they can get, so pulling off something like the RamsRedskins deal from 2012 could be a great kickstart for this worn-out franchise. However, new general manager Dave Gettleman has a track record of staying put, so as of now I expect them to grab their next quarterback. Prediction: Josh Rosen

3. New York Jets – Before you assume this pick will automatically be a quarterback, let me tell you why it might not be. For starters, the Jets rightfully like their current quarterbacks of Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Also, let’s not forget the Jets’ tendency to go BPA in recent drafts. Now that I presented the counter-argument, let’s be honest. The Jets moved up three spots with at least three quarterbacks in mind. This ultimately comes down to an internal Baker MayfieldJosh Allen debate, and I keep hearing Gang Green favors the latter. Allen does have the higher upside, but can he succeed on this team? As for Mayfield, I think the last thing New York needs is a polarizing quarterback who tends to grab headlines for all the wrong reasons. Again, don’t count out other positions just yet, because maybe the Jets don’t see any potential franchise quarterbacks in this class. For now though, I can’t think of any player they would trade three second round picks for. Prediction: Josh Allen

4. Cleveland Browns – This pick depends on the Browns’ first pick, so let’s say they do take Darnold first. That leaves the Browns now taking the best non-QB or they trade down. Barkley is certainly an option here (and would be a steal), but the signing of an underrated Carlos Hyde might cast some doubt on that possible selection. Also, Dorsey is not afraid to wait a few rounds until taking his star running back (see: Hunt, Kareem). Of course, it would help to know who would be blocking for Barkley, Hyde or veteran Duke Johnson. The retirement of future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas might suggest that the Browns fill his void with the best offensive line prospect in a long time: Quenton Nelson. If the Browns don’t like the value of an interior lineman or a running back here, then pairing edge rusher Bradley Chubb with former first overall pick Myles Garrett could be a fantastic decision. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick could be in the mix as well, but Chubb is a more dominant player. (You can learn more about Chubb and the rest of the defensive line class in next week’s Deep Route Draft Notebook.) I think the likeliest option for Cleveland is here is trading the pick to a QB-needy team. The Browns could get more picks (which they love) and a team like the Bills could jump the Broncos (who could take a quarterback). Interestingly enough, I don’t see Mayfield as the type of quarterback the Bills’ regime desires and wonder if their four meetings together will lead to Mayfield’s relocation to Buffalo. Prediction: Trade to Bills, who take Baker Mayfield

Via Wikimedia

5. Denver Broncos – Many people have the Broncos taking a quarterback here, but I heard a while ago that John Elway might be weary of taking another one in the first round (Paxton Lynch). Besides, Lynch backing up Case Keenum is not a bad situation for a Denver team that can use another star player. The Broncos are in a really good spot here because they can take an elite talent at the fifth pick. Nelson seems like a good bet here considering the team’s offensive line woes. Barkley could help revive an offense that hasn’t been the same since Peyton Manning left town. Chubb paired with an already dominant defense could create havoc in the NFL. Fitzpatrick could fill the void left by Aqib Talib’s departure and potentially take over for an aging Chris Harris Jr. I’d put my money on the Broncos going BPA, and while that should be Barkley, Denver favors running back committees which leaves Nelson as the best remaining candidate. Prediction: Quenton Nelson

6. Indianapolis Colts – This was a fantastic trade for a team that needs help all across the board. Barkley is still a possibility here, but second-year general manager Chris Ballard is a John Dorsey disciple and probably prefers late-round running backs. A Barkley selection is also not likely due to the team’s infatuation with budding superstar Marlon Mack. Considering that Ballard loves to build his teams from the interior first, Nelson would probably be a dream scenario. Unfortunately, the Colts would have to settle with Chubb in this projection, which actually isn’t unfortunate at all. Fitzpatrick could be a great pairing with last year’s first round pick Malik Hooker, but Ballard’s tendencies make it likely this pick is either Nelson or Chubb. Prediction: Bradley Chubb

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I can hear the Bucs’ war room screaming with joy already. I guarantee you, based on rumors and common sense, that Barkley will not fall past the seventh pick. In this scenario, someone should charge the Bucs with theft; Barkley is an absolute steal at this value. The team let their best running back walk in Doug Martin and while they could easily take Fitzpatrick to shore up an inconsistent secondary, Barkley would certainly don those horrendous Tampa Bay uniforms next season if still on the board. If Barkley were to be picked already, Nelson and Chubb would both fill massive holes on a team entering a make-or-break year. Prediction: Saquon Barkley

8. Chicago Bears – Fitzpatrick is arguably the best player on the board in this case, but he doesn’t exactly fill a pressing need. What the Bears need is a guard, a linebacker and an edge rusher. Nelson or Chubb would again be dream selections, but let me introduce two new possibilities: Linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds. This really depends on team preference, and while I consider Smith the better prospect, Edmunds could easily be the pick. However, any good general manger (or any person knowledgable of a football front office) will tell you that the best teams take the best players, and in this case that would be the versatile Fitzpatrick. He could be lined up anywhere, which makes his selection even more appealing. Before free agency, I would have considered wide receiver Calvin Ridley as a potential pick here, but the Bears’ recent additions might discourage that. Prediction: Minkah Fitzpatrick

Via Instagram: roquansmith3

9. San Fransisco 49ers – Trading for Jimmy Garoppolo is looking like the best move this team has made in years. Not only did they get a potential franchise quarterback, but they have the luxury of taking the best player available. While the Niners certainly need a guard and a wide receiver, I would say they have two superior options here. The first is taking a linebacker to pair with (or replace) troubled star Reuben Foster. The team is apparently not happy with him and could take a top linebacker here in Smith or Edmunds. The other option is a trade down. San Fran patched up most of their holes at running back, center and cornerback in free agency after signing Jerick McKinnon, Weston Richburg and Richard Sherman, respectively. I could also see them taking Ridley, but they can afford to wait in a deep receiver class. Ultimately, I think general manager John Lynch works his magic and trades down a few spots while still getting the player he wants. As for Miami, they can jump Oakland, who both have similar positional needs. Prediction: Trade with Dolphins, who take Roquan Smith

10. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders could go many ways with this pick in an attempt to fill some needs. Oakland is desperate for defensive lineman, so defensive tackle Vita Vea or edge rushers Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport are possible options. They also need a right tackle (and a potential replacement to Donald Penn at left tackle) so Connor Williams or Mike McGlinchey are also options. If the team were to go BPA, cornerback Denzel Ward as well as Smith and Edmunds can’t be counted out. In the end, I think general manager Reggie McKenzie will kill two birds with one stone in filling a need and taking the most dominant player left in Vita Vea. Prediction: Vita Vea

Bonus: 11. Miami Dolphins – I couldn’t resist talking about my hometown team, especially since I project a trade involving them. First, I am 95 percent confident that Miami will not take a quarterback here, as I explained last week. In the slim chance that Baker Mayfield is available, he is the only QB I could see the Dolphins taking. According to various sources, the Dolphins are looking to add a linebacker, defensive tackle and tight end in the draft. No tight end is worth a first round pick this year and I am sold on Davon Godchaux and Jordan Phillips as longterm starters, especially if they play like they did at the end of last season. That leaves the linebackers left, and I hear the Dolphins are enamored with Smith. The reason I have them trading up is that they know the 49ers and the Raiders could take their guy, and the Dolphins’ front office is not one to wait patiently. Also, I hear they are actively exploring trade opportunities. Smith is still the best bet, though Edmunds and Vea are realistic possibilities. As for the 49ers, they can’t afford to wait any longer for a linebacker so I can see them taking Edmunds. Prediction: Trade with 49ers, who take Tremaine Edmunds

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Content Creator at Armchair Fantasy , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Since I was five, I’ve wanted to talk about sports for a living. I am an award-winning sports broadcaster with experience as a sports commentator. sports anchor, sports producer, and sportswriter. I’m a former athlete and a current NFL Draft and fantasy football enthusiast. Two-for-two in 2017 fantasy league championships. Best fantasy moments: drafting Chris Johnson in 2009 and pairing Le’Veon Bell with my keeper, David Johnson, in 2016. Not related to the other thousand Zach Cohens on social media. Follow me on Twitter: @ZachCohen12
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Content Creator at Armchair Fantasy , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Since I was five, I’ve wanted to talk about sports for a living. I am an award-winning sports broadcaster with experience as a sports commentator. sports anchor, sports producer, and sportswriter. I’m a former athlete and a current NFL Draft and fantasy football enthusiast. Two-for-two in 2017 fantasy league championships. Best fantasy moments: drafting Chris Johnson in 2009 and pairing Le’Veon Bell with my keeper, David Johnson, in 2016. Not related to the other thousand Zach Cohens on social media. Follow me on Twitter: @ZachCohen12

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