Now that the entertainment of a Super Bowl parade for the Philadelphia Eagles is a thing of the past and the draft order is set aside from a flip of the coin, it feels like the right time to get back into the realm of 2018 NFL mock drafts.
Mocks aren't necessarily meant to get as many picks correct as possible. Rather, they serve as a tool to help observers see the full order, a snapshot of the prospect stock market and how teams might act based on need and how the board falls.
Of course, this tool is a necessity early and often throughout the excruciating draft season. As one head coach might say, we're on to the scouting combine—but after that is individual workouts, interviews and whatever else may happen.
For now, the below is where things stand.
2018 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
6. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
8. Chicago Bears: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
*9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
*10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
14. Green Bay Packers: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
16. Baltimore Ravens: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
19. Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
21. Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
23. Los Angeles Rams: Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State
24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
25. Tennessee Titans: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
26. Atlanta Falcons: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
27. New Orleans Saints: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
31. New England Patriots: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
*Depicts tiebreakers to be decided by a coin flip.
It Has to Happen: Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Cleveland Browns can't blink here.
Yes, the Browns have their choice of the top quarterbacks in the class or can ransom the pick off for a major haul. But at some point, the franchise has to start thinking best-player available after spending so much time amassing draft assets.
Now is the time, and yes, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is the best player.
The draft process will rip into Barkley—it eventually comes for every player. But it's an exercise in silliness that will attempt to highlight what he can't do.
At the end of the day, we're talking about one of the best running back prospects to enter the league in more than a decade, a guy whose numbers (1,271 yards, 18 touchdowns on a 5.9 average with another 632 yards and three scores receiving in 2017) are only secondary to the upside.
This isn't one author speaking either. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah, for example, had nothing but praise.
"I had huge grades on Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette when they were prospects" Jeremiah wrote. "I have an even higher grade on Barkley. Each of those three running backs delivered outstanding rookie seasons and I expect the same from Barkley. His route-running ability and natural hands are very rare for such a big, physical runner. He's a special talent and he'll be ready to roll right away."
The Browns risk missing the quarterback they prefer if they roll with Barkley, but we're still talking about an offense with a developing DeShone Kizer who can lean on a solid core with Josh Gordon, David Njoku and Corey Coleman.
Keep in mind the Browns also have the fourth pick, so if they're so inclined, they can grab a quarterback there as well.
Stay the Course: Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
The whole Josh McDaniels situation stinks for the Indianapolis Colts, but the best thing the organization can do is keep plugging away with the current strategy.
Said strategy meant attacking prominent needs in the draft a year ago with high-end prospects like safety Malik Hooker and corner Quincy Wilson.
This year it's all about NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
A team with so many needs can't afford to miss on a prospect who comes in at 6'4" and 275 pounds with the versatility that is oh-so-attractive in today's NFL. He can stand up or put his hand in the dirt and get after passers, giving the coaches options and keeping offenses guessing.
Even ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Chubb might be the best player in the draft, according to ESPN.com's Mike Wells: "He's not the elite talent that [2017 No. 1 overall draft pick] Myles Garrett is, but he's more consistent and more on a daily basis gave you everything he had against the run and the pass. He chased down plays. He's not Myles Garrett, but he's close enough to say, 'Hey, he could be the No. 1 player on anybody's board.'"
Plugging Chubb into the Colts defense doesn't solve every problem by any means, but it's another blue-chip prospect to round out a budding unit meant to complement an Andrew Luck-led offense. Luck himself is an entirely different story, but either way, the Colts are going to need to field a better defense.
Consolation Prize: New England Patriots: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma
It's hard to soothe the pain of a Super Bowl loss, even for the New England Patriots.
The good news, though, is it's now time for the team to actually hit on its major needs, which mostly come on the defensive side of the ball.
The Patriots have a whole world of problems there that aren't simply Malcolm Butler. One of those prominent points is a guy who can get after the quarterback, which is why the unit was leaning on lesser-known guys such as Marquis Flowers for production. Coverage on things like wheel routes is why many still bring up the odd loss of Jamie Collins.
New England can soothe some of these concerns with Oklahoma edge prospect Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who put on a show at the senior bowl despite what many will label as "small" measurements, as captured by Jennifer Lee Chan of NinersNation.com:
Jennifer Lee Chan @jenniferleechan
#Oklahoma DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is only 6’1 240 but has received a lot of mentions this week as a great pass rusher. Just showed it at the #SeniorBowl with that sack.2018-1-27 21:04:32
It's a step in the right direction for a unit that couldn't stop much of anything last year and now needs to move on without its coordinator. Okoronkwo is a small piece of the puzzle from the onset, though it could turn into a major one if he applies consistent pressure and makes life easier on the rest of the unit.
Quarterback could always be an option here with Jimmy Garoppolo gone. But it seems like the Patriots will instead focus on bigger needs because Tom Brady isn't exactly showing signs of aging yet.
Stats courtesy of NFL.com.