One of the more enjoyable aspects of the lengthy pre-draft process is laying out bold predictions for how the first round of the NFL Draft could unfold. That’s never been more of the case than this year, as round one projects to be one of the wildest we’ve seen in recent memory. Here are five bold predictions that could come true on Thursday night.
1. The Chargers trade up for Lamar Jackson
Last year, the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs traded up for their quarterbacks of the future, and this year two more AFC teams with current starters in place (New England and Los Angeles) could do the same. The Chargers are reportedly very interested in Lamar Jackson, and could even select Mason Rudolph if they stay put at No. 17. I think they’ll find a willing trade partner in the early teens, potentially Washington, and pull the trigger on a move up for their guy.
2. Six quarterbacks will go in Round 1
Not only will six go in Round 1, but four will go in the top 10. Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen will come off the board in the top ten picks, even if a trade up or two needs to occur, and Lamar Jackson won’t be long after. I don’t think the Louisville signal caller gets past Arizona. After that, the Chargers, Bengals, Patriots and even Steelers and Saints (less likely) could be options to take Mason Rudolph off the board.
But the most likely candidate to land Rudolph is a second-round team trading back into the late first for him, namely the Giants or Broncos if neither team take a quarterback early. Securing the fifth-year option for a quarterback is very important, especially for teams that have a starter expected to stay in place for at least all of the next season. Rudolph could project as the future in either place, and it shouldn’t cost a ton to move up a few spots for him at that point in the draft.
3. Isaiah Wynn will be the fourth interior offensive lineman off the board
Obviously Quenton Nelson will be the first interior offensive lineman drafted on Thursday, but Arkansas center/right guard Frank Ragnow will likely be next, followed by UTEP’s Will Hernandez or Iowa’s James Daniels. Wynn will likely fall to at least pick 30 where the Minnesota Vikings select, or perhaps even into the second round of the draft.
Concerns about his size and his recently torn labrum are the leading causes, but Wynn won’t last long in round two if he gets there. He’s my 11th overall player and will be a huge steal at that point in the draft.
4. Marcus Davenport will go off the board ahead of Harold Landry
It will be a move NFL GMs regret for a long time, but it sure sounds like NFL teams covet Davenport over the explosive Landry. I’m a little shocked by this, as Landry has the size, athletic traits, production and quality tape against a high level of competition that teams are typically enamored with at edge defender.
Davenport has the size and strong athletic traits as well, but he didn’t produce at a high level, and there is a massive difference between his performance on tape and Landry’s, especially when you consider the opponent. Nevertheless, teams seem to see a raw, yet high upside rusher with all the tools to become a more dominant all-around player than Landry. Look for Tennessee in a trade up if Davenport slides out of the top 15.
5. No more than one wide receiver will be drafted in Round 1
It could be Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Southern Methodist’s Courtland Sutton or Maryland’s D.J. Moore, but only one of the aforementioned players will come off the board in Round 1. This just isn’t a great receiver class, and teams are hesitant to reach given how the position has burned them at the top of the draft in recent years. Baltimore and Dallas are the most likely candidates to take one in round one, but if neither select a wide receiver and Buffalo trades away No. 22, we won’t see one taken in the first round.