- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2018

Happy Draft Day, everyone!

The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is Thursday, April 26, at 8 p.m. To whet your appetite before then, Washington Redskins beat writer Matthew Paras and sports reporter Adam Zielonka present their final mock draft of the season.

Many of these picks changed since the writers’ first mock draft from late March. Several stayed the same. At least one pick had to change, as the New England Patriots acquired the Los Angeles Rams’ 23rd overall pick when they traded Brandin Cooks to L.A.

Just like last time, Paras made the odd-numbered selections and Zielonka took the even-numbered picks. Unlike last time, though, they allowed for the possibility of trades — and one team jumped into the top five.

Scroll down to No. 13 if you only care about the Redskins’ pick.

1. Cleveland Browns — QB Sam Darnold, USC

Paras: The Browns can’t put off taking a quarterback any longer. Let’s go with the “safest” choice here.

2. New York Giants — RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Zielonka: The Giants could draft an heir apparent to Eli Manning or take Bradley Chubb to replace Jason Pierre-Paul, but all the buzz points to Barkley, whom the team sees as a “near-perfect prospect.”

3. New York Jets  QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Paras: Do you think Baker Mayfield was trying to appeal directly to Jets fans with a recreation of that Brett Favre photo? Do Jets fans have good memories of Favre? Anyway, Mayfield’s been rising in recent weeks, and he’d be a fun fit in New York.

4. TRADE — Buffalo Bills — QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

Zielonka: The Bills will not jump ahead of their AFC East rivals, but in this scenario they knew they had better trade ahead of Denver to get the quarterback they love. The Browns could consider Bradley Chubb here, but they will address bigger needs with the Bills’ No. 12 and 22 picks.

5. Denver Broncos — DE Bradley Chubb, NC State

Paras: They have a “need” at guard, but this is an important draft for John Elway. Denver gets another pass rusher to help out Von Miller.

6. Indianapolis Colts — G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Zielonka: Nelson’s college O-line coach took the same job with the Chicago Bears this offseason, but before they get a chance to snap him up, the Colts keep him in-state.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — S Derwin James, Florida State

Paras: Jameis Winston has someone new to throw interceptions to in pract— I mean, the Buccaneers get an athletic, multidimensional safety.

8. Chicago Bears — LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Zielonka: Smith is an all-around talent at inside linebacker, and virtually every mock draft now sees him as a top-10 pick.

9. San Francisco 49ers — LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Paras: Reuben Foster’s future in San Francisco is unclear, despite his ex-girlfriend recanting her allegations of domestic assault against him. Even if Foster is there, the 49ers could use another talented linebacker.

10. Oakland Raiders — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Fitzpatrick is the best player available to the Raiders if he slips this far. He prefers playing cornerback to safety, which is good news, because corner is where Oakland will need him.

11. Miami Dolphins — QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Paras: Rosen apparently likes to be challenged at all times. Miami would be the perfect place for him, then.

12. Cleveland Browns (via trade down) — DE/LB Marcus Davenport, UTSA

Zielonka: If the Browns trade down here and skip out on Chubb, Davenport is not a bad consolation prize for them to pair with Myles Garrett in their pass rush.

13. Washington Redskins — CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Paras: Look, there’s a very good chance this could be Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea. But executive Doug Williams on Tuesday said the strengths of this year’s draft class were defensive backs. So for the sake of switching things up, Ward gets the nod. I’m prepared to be wrong.

14. Green Bay Packers — WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Zielonka: Scouts say Ridley is explosive anywhere on the field. Line him up opposite Davante Adams or across tight end Jimmy Graham, and Aaron Rodgers will be a happy man.

15. Arizona Cardinals  — DE Harold Landry, Boston College

Paras: Lamar Jackson was tempting, but Landry would be a great fit into an already strong Cardinals defense.

16. Baltimore Ravens — OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Zielonka: The Ravens let right tackle Austin Howard go in free agency. Here’s a strong, much younger replacement.

17. Los Angeles Chargerss — DT Vita Vea, Washington

Paras: The Chargers’ run defense is almost as bad as the Redskins’. Enter Vea.

18. Seattle Seahawks — CB Josh Jackson, Iowa

Zielonka: If they can’t grab someone like Vea, Davenport or Landry, and they don’t trade down from No. 18, the Seahawks can still address a defensive need with this shutdown corner.

19. Dallas Cowboys — WR DJ Moore, Maryland

Paras: How well can Moore throw up the X? Here’s the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant replacement.

20. Detroit Lions — CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida

Zielonka: Jackson was the pick here in our previous mock, so let’s give the Lions one of the next-best options at the same position.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — C James Daniels, Iowa

Paras: Daniels can play guard, too, and the Bengals need help on the offensive line.

22. Cleveland Browns (via trade down) — OT Kolton Miller, UCLA

Zielonka: Joe Thomas retired. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

23. New England Patriots — LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Paras: The Patriots traded Brandin Cooks for this pick, but it might not be to grab a quarterback.

24. Carolina Panthers — CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

The Panthers’ pass defense was mediocre last year and only generated 10 interceptions. Alexander could be a better option at No. 2 cornerback than Kevon Seymour, whoever that is.

25. Tennessee Titans — LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Paras: Titans add a linebacker for former linebacker and new coach Mike Vrabel.

26. Atlanta Falcons — DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Zielonka: The Falcons will be ecstatic to see Payne still available at No. 26. He could both fill their biggest need and be the best player available.

27. New Orleans Saints — TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

Paras: After a Jimmy Graham reunion didn’t materialize, the Saints add another weapon for Drew Brees.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers — QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Zielonka: Ben Roethlisberger nearly retired after the 2016 season, yet the Steelers have not planned for his retirement. The style fit here might be questioned, but imagine a read-pass option with Le’Veon Bell and the added threat of Jackson taking off downfield.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars — G Billy Price, Ohio State

Paras: If the Jaguars are going to keep running the ball, Price can help shore up the interior of their offensive line.

30. Minnesota Vikings — G Will Hernandez, UTEP

Zielonka: It’s an unusually top-heavy class for interior offensive linemen. Here’s one more. The Vikings need little help on either side of the ball, but they could plug Hernandez in at right guard to replace the retired Joe Berger.

31. New England Patriots — TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

Paras: If Robert Gronkowski’s future in New England is murky outside next season, now might be the time for his replacement.

32. Philadelphia Eagles — WR Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Zielonka: Goedert would have been a great pick had he still been on the board, but instead, Sutton sneaks into the first round for another team with few holes to fill.

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