The NFL Draft is just around the corner. Finally.
After months of dissecting college film and putting prospects through rigorous workouts, teams will show their poker hands when the draft gets underway Thursday at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
McClatchy’s Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, has been tracking the latest on draft prospects since last season. Here’s the first round in its Mock Draft 3.0, published Sunday:
1. Cleveland Browns. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Sam Darnold slips from the top spot he occupied since the Star-Telegram produced its first mock draft March 8. There’s just too many whispers going around on Allen, the Firebaugh native who also played one season at Reedley College, to the Browns, and that’s too hard to ignore. General manager John Dorsey needs to use this pick on whoever he believes will become a franchise quarterback. (Many mock drafts have elevated Allen to No. 1.)
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2. New York Giants. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Same as before. The smart long-term play mighty be taking a quarterback, but the Giants could become playoff contenders again with the addition of Barkley. This is a team that ranked 26th in rushing offense a season ago.
3. New York Jets. Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Jets land the quarterback who’s widely considered the “safest” QB choice in this year’s class. They hope Darnold lives up to the hype.
4. Cleveland Browns. Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State. The Browns benefit by the Colts trading out of the No. 3 spot. Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft and would form a dream pass rush tandem with Myles Garrett.
5. Denver Broncos. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Case Keenum is the starter for the immediate future, and this provides a perfect breeding ground for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
6. Indianapolis Colts. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Arguably the best player in the draft; the Colts get Andrew Luck more inside protection.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. A Day 1 starter at safety will help a secondary that ranked last in pass defense, allowing 260.6 yards a game.
8. Chicago Bears. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Shutdown corners don’t grow on trees, and Ward has the makings of being just that at the next level.
9. San Francisco 49ers. Derwin James, S, Florida State. He’s drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor and Ed Reed. Oh, and 49ers general manager John Lynch knows a thing or two about safety play.
10. Oakland Raiders. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. At just 19, Edmunds is going to be the youngest player in the NFL. But he’s an elite athlete and should become a staple at the start of the Jon Gruden era.
11. Miami Dolphins. Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Ndamukong Suh is gone. Enter Vea, a massive run-stuffing defensive tackle.
12. Buffalo Bills. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Bills might have to trade into the top-five to get their quarterback of choice. But Rosen slides to them in this scenario.
13. Washington Redskins. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Smith is a top-10 talent the Redskins would love to see fall to them. This would be an easy pick.
14. Green Bay Packers. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. Landry had a disappointing season as a senior in 2017, but he still has the makings of being an elite edge rusher at the next level. The Packers gamble on him over UTSA’s Marcus Davenport.
15. Arizona Cardinals. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. With no disrespect to Sam Bradford, the Cardinals need to find a future quarterback, and Jackson has upside. New coach Steve Wilks came from Carolina and could see Jackson in a similar light as Cam Newton.
16. Baltimore Ravens. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Ravens had one of the worst passing offenses last season. Quarterback Joe Flacco needs more weapons and lands the top receiving talent in this class.
17. Los Angeles Chargers. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Rudolph has worked out with Philip Rivers this off-season and would love to study under him. Why not make it happen with Rivers turning 37 this season?
18. Seattle Seahawks. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The “Legion of Boom” appears to be a thing of the past, but Jackson could be part of the next era. He had 27 passes defended and eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes last season.
19. Dallas Cowboys. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. Yes, wide receiver is a need, but the team addresses it in Round 2. They opt for a linebacker who adds depth to a unit that has been injury-riddled.
20. Detroit Lions. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Payne is the best player on the board at this point and is a talent in the trenches who will help every level of the defense. He also has flexibility if Matt Patricia is running a 3-4 or 4-3.
21. Cincinnati Bengals. James Daniels, C, Iowa. Daniels is the best center in this class and maybe since Pro Bowler Alex Mack in 2009. He has versatility to start at any three of the interior line positions and will help the Bengals immediately.
22. Buffalo Bills. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. They traded away Cordy Glenn to the Bengals and fill that void with a player, McGlinchey, who can be a Day 1 starter at right or left tackle.
23. New England Patriots. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Nate Solder bolted in free agency and the Patriots address that with a pick acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade. Miller isn’t the cleanest prospect, but has the makings of becoming an elite left tackle in the pros.
24. Carolina Panthers. Justin Reid, S, Stanford. The Panthers released Kurt Coleman, and Reid would step in as a Day 1 starter. He is a versatile player who had five interceptions last season for the Cardinal.
25. Tennessee Titans. Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are set to become free agents after this season, and Davenport could develop into an elite rusher after piling up 15 sacks the past two seasons at UTSA.
26. Atlanta Falcons. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Bryan has drawn comparisons to Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox. A prospect with that much upside has to entice a coach such as Dan Quinn, who spent time at Florida as the defensive coordinator and D-line coach in 2011-12.
27. New Orleans Saints. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. Drew Brees gets another weapon in hopes of making another push for a championship. After failing to bring back Jimmy Graham, Gesicki gives the Saints a big target at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, especially in the red zone. It also doesn’t hurt that he tied for first in the 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds) among tight ends at the Combine.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. A physical linebacker with power and speed who had 13 tackles for loss last season. Evans makes sense for the Steelers, particularly after the scary spinal injury Ryan Shazier sustained last year.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars. D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The Jaguars didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver, and the leader in touchdown receptions was veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis with five. They need more playmakers for Blake Bortles.
30. Minnesota Vikings. Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The have to protect their biggest investment, Kirk Cousins, and Williams is versatile enough to play guard or tackle. That’s good for a team that saw longtime right guard Joe Berger retire last month.
31. New England Patriots. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Alexander is a corner with speed and ball skills. He’s certainly a suitable replacement for Malcolm Butler (who is now with the Titans).
32. Philadelphia Eagles. Derrius Guice, LSU. The Eagles have a stocked roster and add another playmaker to their offense in Guice, who was among the Eagles’ pre-draft visits. Guice provides stability at running back, too, with Jay Ajayi entering the final year of his contract in 2018.
Josh Allen by the numbers
Weight: 237 pounds
2017: 56.3 completion percentage, 1,812 yards (164.7 per game), 16 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
2016: 56.0 completion percentage, 3,203 yards (228.8 per game), 28 TDs, 15 interceptions
2015: 4 for 6 in two games before suffering a broken collarbone, 51 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions
2014: 49.0 completion percentage, 2,055 yards, 26 TDs, 5 interceptions
2013: 57.4 completion percentage, 3,061 yards (255.1 per game), 33 TDs, 5 interceptions
2012: 50.8 completion percentage, 2,208 yards (200.7 per game), 26 TDs, 10 interceptions