The Apache Pow Wow

NFL Draft Predictions

Ian Sutliff, Writer

With the NFL season just three short months away, most of the potential rookies have already declared whether they would be return to college football or would try their luck in the NFL Draft. Accurately judging the abilities of these players will determine the outcome of the upcoming season and will likely be debated in the hours leading up to the draft. These are my picks for the first half of the NFL draft, starting with the Browns and ending with the Ravens.

 

  1. Cleveland Browns

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

 

The Browns have won just one game in the last two years. They are going to need a star player to be able to get out of their long playoff drought. The Browns have not had a .500 season or better since 2007, and they haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.  Though availability has been a problem for Rosen (missed 8 out of 38 college games), a strong Cleveland offense could provide the motivation he needs to be able to play the whole season. However, the former UCLA quarterback still needs to improve in many areas. While he is definitely large enough to be in the NFL (6’4” 220 Lbs.) and the best pocket passer in the draft, he still needs to make better decisions when throwing, and needs to have backup plans in case the pocket collapses.

 

  1. New York Giants

Sam Darnold, QB, USC

 

The Giants were expected by many to make the playoffs this year. Even though they went 3-13, they still have one of the NFL’s most talented roster. Their defense is great and have competent receivers. One piece that’s missing is a versatile quarterback. Though Darnold struggled against Ohio State, whose defense is on tier with some NFL teams, Darnold should be fine at the next level. If he gets drafted for this team, he will gain the support of two pro bowl receivers and a young and talented end receiver. Darnold might not be ready the first season, but he will learn lots from Eli Manning and take over the job in his sophomore season.

 

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

 

While the Colts will need an upgrade at running back soon, they won’t take Barkley for that. With Luck back next year, the only thing that the Colts need is a good defense. A big hole that they had last year was they didn’t sack enough. Indianapolis was 31st in the league in sacks, and Bradley Chubb was able to pick up 10 of them last year. He will be a great fit for the Colts and possibly lead them back to the playoffs.

 

  1. Cleveland Browns

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

 

Many are expecting Barkley and a top quarterback to go to the Browns, but the Browns still have two strong backs in Johnson and Crowell. By getting an NFL talent like Fitzpatrick, Cleveland would be able to be able to add to an already talented and young defense. Adding to defense instead of offense with the Browns’ second pick would be more beneficial than getting a running back.

 

  1. Denver Broncos

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

 

The Broncos are a quarterback away from being a perennial playoff team. Josh Allen didn’t have the year that everyone expected, but he showed off his downfield accuracy and strong arm in the Idaho Potato Bowl just a month ago. Allen finished the season better than Darnold and Rosen, but he will still be selected lower. He has the size to be in the NFL, and the more experience he gets the better.

 

  1. New York Jets

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

 

Barkley probably should have been a finalist for the Heisman award, as he had one of the most impressive seasons of anyone in college football. He led his team to a Fiesta Bowl win, proving that he is NFL ready and his speed and strength will lead him to a strong career. He is not only valuable as a runner but as a kick or punt returner. The Jets would really like to improve their offense and if Barkley is still on the board, they will take him without a thought.

 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

 

The Buccaneers have three talented running backs but there offensive line wasn’t good enough to provide them with the holes they needed last year. Nelson would help the Bucs greatly because of his strong run blocking. At 6’5” and 330 lbs, Nelson was the best lineman in college football and will fill a huge team need for Tampa.

 

  1. Chicago Bears

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

 

The Bears have some talented receivers in Kevin White and Cameron Meredith. The only problem is that they struggle to stay healthy and if Bears quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky is going to gain the confidence he needs to be a successful NFL quarterback, he is going to need another talented receiver. Ridley is the best WR in this years draft, and his route running and speed will help become the player that the Bears need.

 

  1. San Francisco 49ers

Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

 

The 49ers defense is improving and will only get better if they add to their secondary. They could take talented Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, but they already have Eric Reid and Ahkello Witherspoon. Reuben Foster and Smith would make for an amazing linebacker pair and turn this defense into one of the elites in the league. With 137 tackles last year and 6.5 sacks, Smith looks like he will make an immediate impact in the NFL.

 

  1. Oakland Raiders

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

 

Ward was a lockdown defender, and while his two interceptions aren’t very attractive, he limited some of the top receivers in college football last year. The Raiders only intercepted five passes last year, and they have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Ward would be a great fit to help Oakland guard the opponents best receivers.

 

  1. Miami Dolphins

Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

 

O’Neill has played tight end before and he can play offensive guard as well. The Dolphins have struggled on pass protection over the last couple years. Miami really struggles with getting their running backs yards before contact. The Dolphins ranked 30th in the NFL in run-block efficiency, but the Pittsburgh offensive lineman can greatly improve Miami’s chances at being protected on the line.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

 

The Bengals need an offensive lineman very badly, and the main reason that Dalton struggled last year was because of the lack of protection he got. Cincinnati was 20th in pass protection and 24th in run-blocking efficiency. McGlinchey is arguably the best lineman in the draft and would make in immediate impact for the Bengals.

 

  1. Washington Redskins

Tremaine Edwards, LB, Virginia Tech

 

Edwards was the leader of one of the best defenses in the nation last year and is a fast and steady linebacker. With two of Washington’s starters going into free agency this year, Edwards would be a great fit. He had 109 tackles and 14 for losses. He is the best pass rusher to come into this draft, and he looks very ready for professional competition.

 

  1. Green Bay Packers

Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

 

Jackson led the Iowa defense to a strong year in 2017. He intercepted eight passes and was easily the best corner in college football last year. Jackson will look to help a depleted Green Bay secondary.

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

 

From walk on to first round pick, Oklahoma’s Mayfield has one of the best stories to tell. He single handedly led his Sooners to the college football playoff and won the 2017 Heisman award. He is extremely gifted, and it will be fun to watch him be a great dual threat. Carson Palmer just announced his retirement, and the Cardinals would love to have Mayfield lead the team instead of Staton.

 

  1. Baltimore Ravens

Vita Vea, DT, Washington

 

Vea was one of the best pass rushers in football last year and could help an already great Baltimore defense. He had a great year at Washington (38 tackles, 3.5 sacks), and he will fill the only hole in the Raven defense.

 

Photo courtesy of THETENYARDLINE.COM

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