With NFL free agency officially underway, draft analysts are releasing second and third versions of their 2018 mock drafts to accommodate for players lost or added to NFL rosters. One of those analysts is NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, who released his second mock draft on Thursday.
The 2018 NFL Draft is now less than six weeks away, and many are looking at former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley as one of the top players, if not the top player, in the entire draft class. However, Brooks has Barkley going No. 3 overall in his mock draft to the Indianapolis Colts.
Brooks expects the Cleveland Browns to take former USC quarterback Sam Darnold at No. 1 and for the New York Giants to take former Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson at No. 2. This leaves the Colts, who could look to pair Barkley with quarterback Andrew Luck.
Here’s Brooks’ explanation for Barkley going No. 3:
“This pick is likely on the auction block, but in this scenario, the Colts decide to give Andrew Luck an explosive backfield mate with a versatile game. Peyton Manning benefited from having Edgerrin James by his side, and Luck could see his game improve with a dynamic RB commanding attention from opponents.”
In addition to having the top pick in the draft. The Browns also have the No. 4 pick. Brooks believes that with the bevy of moves the Browns have already made this offseason, that they may look to buff up their secondary with the No. 4 pick by taking former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
Here is his explanation for Ward going No. 4:
“The Browns could opt for a safety in this spot, but the team really needs to find a No. 1 CB who can lock up the premier pass catchers in the AFC North. Ward’s athleticism and ball skills make him an ideal fit on the island.”
In addition to Barkley and Ward, Brooks has three other Big Ten players being drafted in the first round.
His mock draft has former Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst going to the Detroit Lions with the No. 20 overall pick, former Iowa center James Daniels going to the Buffalo Bills with the No. 22 pick and former Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard going to the Carolina Panthers with the No. 24 pick.