2018 NFL Mock Draft analysis: Trades will create early QB run

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Editor's note: Each week leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft (April 26-28 on NFL Network), Chase Goodbread will delve into the most recent NFL.com mock drafts for a closer look at what might transpire once teams are officially on the clock, beginning this week with his takeaways from the mocks of analysts Charley Casserly and Chad Reuter.

Quarterbacks, anyone?

They'll be flying off the board fast and early in the 2018 NFL Draft, according to the latest mocks from NFL.com analysts Charley Casserly and Chad Reuter. Both project teams trading into the top 10 selections to take a quarterback. Casserly sees the Buffalo Bills moving up to No. 5 overall from No. 12 to take Wyoming's Josh Allen. Reuter projects even more activity: the New Orleans Saints trading up to the No. 8 spot for Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, and the Bills moving up to No. 9 to get the electrifying Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville.

See anything in common? Both have Buffalo making a move up for a quarterback. The Bills, remember, hold the No. 12 pick overall after a deal with the Bengals moved them up nine spots in the first round, leading to speculation about another move up for a team that needs to find its future at the position.

Real trades, not mocked ones, have already added plenty of heat to the quarterback speculation. Cleveland's leverage with picks 1 and 4 overall (No. 4 overall via the Houston Texans) and it's seemingly annual need at the position conspire with the New York Jets' trade up to the No. 3 pick to make it so. Both Casserly and Reuter project Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Allen to be top-five picks.

The quarterback market in the draft drives home this truth: You either have a top-tier starter, or you need one.

Here are seven other notables from the Casserly and Reuter mocks from this week:

2) Casserly projects Darnold to be the Browns' selection at No. 1 overall, while Reuter's forecast calls for Allen to go No. 1. As desperately as Cleveland needs a quarterback, they just as desperately need to make the right decision among a variety of options that could also include waiting until the No. 4 selection to pick one.

3) There's plenty of speculation about the New England Patriots' plans for the draft now that they have two first-round picks following this week's Brandin Cooks trade. Will they spend one of those selections on a QB to groom behind Tom Brady? Both Casserly and Reuter say no. Casserly has New England taking UCLA OT Kolton Miller and Iowa CB Josh Jackson in Round 1. Reuter projects Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry to the Patriots at No. 23 and a trade down by the Patriots at No. 31.

4) The last time a running back went in the top three of the draft, the Browns selected a spectacular bust in Trent Richardson (2012, No. 3 overall). Six years later, the New York Giants will go that high for Penn State's Saquon Barkley, per Casserly. The former Washington Redskins general manager projects the Giants to take Barkley No. 2 overall.

5) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have draft needs in the secondary, so it should come as no surprise that Casserly and Reuter both project the Bucs to take one of the draft's two most coveted do-it-all DBs at No. 7 overall. But which is the right move? Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida State's Derwin James both offer an NFL club skills to play in multiple secondary roles. James is the more athletic of the two, but as a three-year starter, Fitzpatrick compiled a larger body of work at the college level. James missed most of his sophomore year due to injury.

6) For those who prefer their mocks to go longer than Round 1, Reuter offers a five-rounder that goes 174 picks deep. SEC players will be flying off the board to begin the second day of the draft, per Reuter. He projects the Jacksonville Jaguars to select WR Christian Kirk with the first pick of the second round after they trade out of Round 1 in a deal with the Browns (the Jaguars, remember, have lost both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns this offseason). After that, Reuter's SEC party falls like this: Alabama LB Rashaan Evans (Colts, No. 36), Georgia RB Nick Chubb (Colts, No. 37), Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn (Bears, No. 39), Auburn CB Carlton Davis (Broncos, No. 40), Georgia RB Sony Michel (Raiders, No. 41), Florida DE Taven Bryan (Patriots, No. 43), LSU CB Donte Jackson (Redskins, No. 44), Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter (Packers, No. 45), South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst (Bengals, No. 46), Alabama S Ronnie Harrison (Chargers, No. 48).

7) Could the Browns get the best pass rusher in the draft for two consecutive seasons? Casserly projects Cleveland to take North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb at No. 4 overall, just a year after the club tapped Myles Garrett of Texas A&M with the No. 1 overall pick. That could make for a frightening pairing for AFC North quarterbacks.

8) Casserly and Reuter are aligned with the same projection on only three first-round selections. Both project Rosen to the New York Jets, Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson to the Indianapolis Colts three picks later at No. 6, and Washington DT Vita Vea to the Washington Redskins at No. 13.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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