NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock answered questions from reporters during an hour-long conference call Friday to preview the 2018 NFL Draft, and made several connections between NFL clubs and draft prospects who could fit them well. Here's a quick look at some of Mayock's thoughts on draft possibilities for eight NFL teams.
If the popular narrative that the Cleveland Browns will select either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen with the No. 1 overall draft pick next week is accurate, the choice is between two big-armed quarterbacks with lots of potential. But for Mayock, USC's Darnold is the better option for a team with a long history of poor quarterbacking.
"My gut tells me that if you're choosing between the two, Allen might have the higher ceiling," Mayock said. "But you've swung and missed so many times in Cleveland at quarterback, can you afford another one with the first pick? Your first pick has to set the tone. I think at the end of the day, it's Sam Darnold."
Having played at Wyoming, with limited exposure to defenses from Power Five conferences, Allen is a bit more of a projection than the Trojans' two-year starter. Beyond competition, there are further concerns about Allen's accuracy and, per Mayock, more specifically about his ability to throw with timing and anticipation. Still, he has what Mayock described as the biggest arm the draft has seen since JaMarcus Russell, but he sees Darnold as the better option for new Browns GM John Dorsey.
"He's got a little Brett Favre in him, which I think John likes," Mayock said. "John likes a little swagger."
New Orleans Saints
Lamar Jackson could be a first-round possibility and a good fit for a forward-thinking coach like the Saints' Sean Payton, though Jackson's ultimate destination will require what Mayock described as a "philosophical and schematic commitment" to change an offense. Mayock is expecting a team to make that commitment in the first round next week.
New York Giants
If the Giants don't take a quarterback at No. 2 overall, their best options are Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb or Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson. Mayock also believes New York is unlikely to trade down lower than the No. 6 overall choice, currently held by the Colts. If they stay at No. 2, Mayock expects the Giants will pick Barkley.
If the Ravens take a wide receiver in the first round, Maryland's D.J. Moore would offer them more versatility than Alabama's Calvin Ridley because of his potential playing not only in the slot but as a return specialist, as well. Mayock sees the Ravens' pick at No. 16 as being a bit high for either, however.
Would UTSA DE Marcus Davenport be the right fit with the Lions' defense? Maybe. But it could take a while to find out. Mayock sees Davenport as a raw talent in need of some development, and one who could make a more immediate impact in a more simple defensive scheme that would require him only to rush the passer. More would be required of him in the Lions' defense, which could make him more of a long-term projection in Detroit.