The regular season kicks off tonight with the Patriots and Chiefs while the rest of the teams in the NFL don't get started until this weekend. With the season starting, many fanbases have their eyes on potential playoff runs and Super Bowl contention while other fanbases have strapped themselves in for another long season. Either way, people have their eyes and ears open for NFL draft prospects who could help their team in the future, regardless of how good the team is now. Sure these early mock drafts tend to be less relevant come April, but they serve as a good way to get to know some of the better players in college football. This mock is based less on pick predictions (which is a stupid exercise, especially at this point) and more on evaluations of players at this stage in the game. Draft order is based on Super Bowl odds.
- Cleveland Browns- Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame: Being fairly optimistic, it looks like the Cleveland Browns have a promising quarterback in Deshone Kizer and may not need to take a signal caller high in next year's draft. The Browns are slowly reconstructing their roster and should consider fixing up the one weaker spot in their offensive line at right tackle. Mike McGlinchey has experience playing on both sides of the line and could play on the right side until Joe Thomas eventually decides to hang it up.
- San Fransisco 49ers-Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA: This quarterback class got a lot of hype going into the season but not in the way that made a ton of sense. Josh Allen, a quarterback from the MWC who completed 56% of his passes and threw 15 interceptions, was a anointed early on as an elite quarterback prospect. Also, Sam Darnold is surely incredibly gifted with physical tools, but has less than 12 career games under his belt. However, one of the quarterbacks rightfully got people talking with Josh Rosen. Rosen missed most of his sophomore season with an injury but he has all the traits and smarts for the quarterback position. He is a bit inconsistent and can make head scratching decisions for every wow throw he makes, but he has a lot of what it takes to be a franchise signal caller in the NFL.
- New York Jets-Harold Landry, Edge Defender, Boston College: The Jets need a lot of help and could just take the best player off the board to fix up their roster. While both sides of the ball need help, the Jets could stand to add a dynamic pass rusher to a rebuilding defense. Harold Landry has the quickness, motor and technique to be a star defender in the NFL and god knows the Jets need blue chip players wherever they can get them.
- Buffalo Bills-Connor Williams, Offensive Tackle, Texas: It would be a bit head scratching if the Bills ended up needing a quarterback in the spring. Tyrod Taylor is a solid starter and the staff seems high on Nathan Peterman so they may elect to continue to rebuild the both sides of the ball (since they keep trading away good players). Williams is a very good tackle prospect who has all the tools of a top tier player. He struggles a bit with consistency, but he is still young with lots of room to grow. A great way to rebuild a team is through the trenches and Williams would give a massive boost to Buffalo's line.
- Los Angeles Rams-Derwin James, Safety, Florida State: The Rams have done a good job adding a lot of juice to their offense to give Jared Goff a fair shot at succeeding. However, their defense has lost some playmakers over the last few years and they could stand to reload. Derwin James is a do it all defensive star who can play free safety, strong safety, in the slot or as a nickel linebacker. He is not so much a safety as he is just a defensive weapon. James looks like a blue chip talent at this point and could be a day one star for the Rams' young football team.
- Chicago Bears-Minkah Fitzpatrick, Defensive Back, Alabama: Similar to Derwin James, there is very little Minkah Fitzpatrick can't do. He has experience all over a defensive backfield and it will be to the discretion of NFL teams where they want him at the next level. He can cover, hit and make plays on the ball. The Bears are starting to put together a nice young team and Fitzpatrick would be another much needed star in their secondary.
- Jacksonville Jaguars- Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville: I really hope people get over the "Lamar Jackson isn't an NFL quarterback" schtick. He has a cannon arm, great mobility and is a solid decision maker. His biggest issue is consistent accuracy and he definitely looked much improved in Louisville's debut this season. While there will always be doubters due to the "unorthodox" nature of his play and his size, I bet he continues to climb in quarterback rankings until people realize he is the real deal.
- Miami Dolphins- Arden Key, Edge Defender, LSU: The Dolphins are looking like a promising team before Ryan Tannehill was lost of the season with a knee injury. While they did add pass rusher Charles Harris last year through the draft, the team may want to double dip in the defensive line pool with Cameron Wake getting into his twilight years. Key has all the potential in the world and by the time the draft roles around, he could go a lot higher than this.
- Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, Defensive Line, Clemson: The Lions defensive line has taken some hits the last few years with its only legit player going into this season being Ziggy Ansah. Christian Wilkins is an athletic stud who can wreak havoc at the defensive tackle spot. The Lions are a solid team, but adding more juice to their defensive line could go a long way.
- Cincinnati Bengals-Mitch Hyatt, Offensive Tackle, Clemons: The Bengals lost a ton of offensive line talent this offseason and definitely need to rejuvenate the unit if they want any chance going forward. Mitch Hyatt is a big, athletic tackle who could step in immediately for the Bengals and be an upgrade.
- Washington- Jerome Baker, Linebacker, Ohio State: Washington is going through some uncertainty right now as Su'a Cravens debates retirement. Cravens was an important young piece in their defense and they will need to contemplate how to move on from him. Jerome Baker is a speed freak at the linebacker position who could add a great dynamic to a talented defense from day one.
- Los Angeles Chargers- Sam Darnold, Quarterback, USC: Even for his lack of experience, there is no denying that Sam Darnold is a talented quarterback. Coming into a situation like the Chargers would be perfect because he would not be asked to step in from day one and can be eased in over time. Darnold needs to prove this year that 2016 wasn't a fluke, but there is still reason to believe he can help an NFL team in the future.
- Baltimore Ravens- Courtland Sutton, Wide Receiver, SMU: The Ravens have been snakebitten the last few years by injuries but they have also just been a stagnant team on the offensive side of the ball. While there is hope that the group of Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman actually works this year; the Ravens need certainty at the receiver position. Courtland Sutton is a massive target who wins jump balls on the regular. That is exactly the type of player Joe Flacco needs and it's not hard to figure that the Ravens need young stars on offense instead of bandaids.
- Indianapolis Colts- Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State: The Colts made a a few great picks last year with Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson to add some youth to their secondary. However, with Vontae Davis getting up there in age, they might need to continue adding young defensive backs. Denzel Ward is a stud in man coverage and could help the Colts form a formidable secondary of young players in 2018.
- New Orleans Saints- Tavarus McFadden, Cornerback, Florida State: The Saints are another team that spent a high pick on a cornerback that could still use another one. While Marshon Lattimore looks like he is going to be a very good player, the Saints could stand to add even more talented players to their secondary. Tavarus McFadden is a nasty press cornerback with ball skills; having the attitude and the playmaking ability the Saints defense desperately needs.
- Minnesota Vikings-Quenton Nelson, Offensive Guard, Notre Dame: The Vikings have a fairly talented team but look the weakest in the offensive trenches, especially after the release of Alex Boone. Quenton Nelson is an athletic mauler who brings incredible run blocking and a great demeanor to any offensive line.
- Philadelphia Eagles- Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State: While Barkley falling this far would be some kind of miracle, the Eagles should sprint to the podium if he is still there. It is well known that the Eagles have a massive hole at running back and Barkley is the type of back to completely transform an offense. He can run, catch and block at an elite level and the Eagles would be lucky to be able to select one of the best running back prospects of the last few years.
- Tennessee Titans-Jaire Alexander, Cornerback, Louisville: The Titans have done a good job loading their roster with talent but still one of the weaker groups on the team is their defensive backfield. Adoree Jacksons should provide a longterm upgrade, but they should pair him with another young cornerback to fix up the unit. Alexander is a feisty ballhawk who would fit perfectly with Jackson being a feisty ballhawk to give the Titans an athletic, playmaking cornerback duo.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Orlando Brown, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: It is hard identifying a pressing need on the Buccaneers but they could definitely stand to add some talent to their offensive line. Orlando Brown has the size and athletic ability to command either tackle spot and the Bucs surely need some security for their franchise quarterback.
- Arizona Cardinals- Mason Rudolph, Quarterback, Oklahoma State: With Carson Palmer aging, the Cardinals need to start seriously thinking about the next era of quarterback for them. Mason Rudolph may not have the strongest arm, but he has great accuracy as a vertical passer and is smart, poised and athletic.
- Buffalo Bills (From the Chiefs) - James Washington, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State: With the trade of Sammy Watkins, the Bills have a huge whole on their offense for a playmaking pass catcher. Jordan Matthews could be a solid number two for them, but longterm they need someone to stretch the field. James Washington is a vertical threat with ball skills for days. He would give the Bills a much needed downfield target and in turn elevate the offense's underneath options.
- Carolina Panthers- Billy Price, Offensive Lineman, Ohio State: The Panthers have done a nice job reloading offensive talent, but they could still stand to add some youth to their line. Bill Price is a versatile interior offensive lineman who can play center and guard at a high level. The Panthers would best stand to focus on becoming an offensive football team and adding a talented offensive lineman high would be a massive help.
- Cleveland Browns- Jaylon Ferguson, Edge Defender, Louisiana Tech: A somewhat under the radar name, Jaylon Ferguson is a small schooler, but incredibly dynamic getting after the passer. He might not have the size of Myles Garrett, but he would pair nicely coming off the other side of the defense for the Browns. Ferguson is definitely a name to keep an eye on throughout the season.
- Denver Broncos-Derrius Guice, Running back, LSU: The Broncos have been searching for a bell cow runner for a while now. With their quarterback situation slightly in flux, they could stand to add an option on offense that would take pressure off of the passing game. Derrius Guice is an incredibly gifted pure runner who could contest being the top back in this class by the end of the season. The Broncos could use his size, speed and tackle breaking ability in a huge way to help their offense.
- New York Giants- Micah Kizer, Linebacker, Virginia: We say it every year that the Giants need linebackers, but it never happens. This year will likely be no different. The Giants field a talented defense that is lacking at the second level in terms of linebackers. Micah Kizer is an old school, smart, hard hitting backer who would give the Giants a huge boost on an already solid unit.
- Dallas Cowboys-Tyquan Lewis, Edge Defender, Ohio State: Despite taking Taco Charlton last draft, the Cowboys will still likely need a good bit of help rushing the passer. Tyquan Lewis is a very good athlete with great size and would give the Cowboys a lot more speed on a defensive line unit that needs it.
- Pittsburgh Steelers- Vita Vea, Defensive Tackle, Washington: The Steelers tend to love big, physical defensive lineman and Vita Vea would be no different. He is a versatile athlete who can provide help rushing the passer and stopping the run. The Steelers defense is not in desperate need of defensive line help, but Vea would help turn the unit into an even more stingy group.
- Atalanta Falcons-Damian Prince, Offensive Guard, Maryland: The Falcons have very few pressing needs but they could stand to upgrade their guard position. Damian Prince is a very good athlete who gets after it int he running game and flashes as a pass blocker. While it isn't a sexy pick, it would be a huge boost for an already outstanding offensive unit.
- Seattle Seahawks-Deon Cain, Wide Receiver, Clemson: The Seahawks have one of the better pass catchers in the league with Doug Baldwin but there are a whole bunch of question marks at receiver besides him. Will Tyler Lockett stay healthy and take the next step? Can Amara Darboh make an impact early? Those are pretty pressing questions given the lack of depth at receiver that the Seahawks have. Deon Cain is a massive, athletic target who could step in on day one and make a huge impact.
- Oakland Raiders-Malik Jefferson, Linebacker, Texas: The Raiders desperately need help at the linebacker position. It is a unit almost completely bereft of talent and it is holding the team back in a big way. Malik Jefferson is still a raw player, but he is a great athlete who can cover, defend the run and rush the passer. He still needs to become more consistent, but adding an athlete like that to the Raiders defense would immediately be an upgrade of their current group.
- Green Bay Packers- Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M: It may not seem like it now but the Packers could benefit from adding some youth at wide receiver. Jordy Nelson isn't getting any younger, Randall Cobb is owed more money than he's worth and Davante Adams is headed into a contract year. The Packers likely retain two of those three but could still benefit from adding another dynamic playmaker. Christian Kirk is a quick twitch athlete who does a very good job picking up yards after catch and providing an impact as a returner. It would be hard to see a playmaker like him slip out of the first round.
- New England Patriots-Bradley Chubb, Edge Defender, NC State: The Patriots have a completely stacked roster besides their defensive ends. Bradley Chubb is a high motor player with awesome technique. He would be able to step in day one and give the team a lot of help rushing the passer and setting the edge against the run. While it is hard to find a need for such a team, Chubb could be an immediate impact rookie for them.