Projecting trades in a Mock Draft is a futile effort. There are too many variables and rumors. It's mostly speculation. And really, it's just an exercise in fantasy football.
But … well, who doesn't love fantasy football?
So with not a lot of changes in how I think the Top 10 will go, and with not enough clarity on the truth just yet, it's worth a look at the possibilities of the Giants trading down - something many around the league have been talking about in recent days. Inside the organization, the reaction I hear is mixed. One source said he believes Giants GM Dave Gettleman is entrenched with the second pick. Another said he'd be open to a trade down, but it's hard to imagine he'd want to drop very far.
Given his proclamation that the No. 2 pick should be a "gold jacket" player projected for the Hall of Fame, and how he told the media he has to be careful of getting "too cute" with that pick, I tend to agree he wouldn't want to drop very far, and it might take a lot to get him to trade down at all.
But since we're playing fantasy football, let's give it a shot. The Bills are definitely trying to trade up into the Top 5 for a quarterback and they are dangling their two first round picks (12, 22). I can't see the Giants dropping that far. But what if the Bills can pull off the rare double jump, moving into the Top 10 first, and then enticing the Giants to trade, too?
The Bills do also have two second-round picks and two third-round picks, so they conceivably could have the ammunition to do that. It would be hugely expensive, but many (including me) would argue there is no price too high to find a franchise quarterback that can lead your team for the next 10 years.
So that has some possibilities. For the fun of it, let's say the Bills can do it by moving up first to 6, where the Indianapolis Colts are known to want to trade down so they can accumulate picks, and then to No. 2 with the Giants. Never mind the details of the trade. I chose that scenario because it could significantly shake up the top of the draft, and with the Bills jumping in for a quarterback it definitely would affect the Jets, too.
Take a look …
1. Cleveland Browns - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Around the league, USC's Sam Darnold is generally thought of as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in this draft, but there is now an incredible chorus of people who are absolutely convinced that new Browns GM John Dorsey is taking Josh Allen. It makes some sense, because despite his poor college numbers, Allen's size and arm may mean he's got the biggest upside in the draft. But as always this time of year, you have to wonder: Is it all a big ruse? I still don't think so. People who know or talk to Dorsey keep appearing in reports swearing he's taking Allen. I would think if it was all a smokescreen to try to entice someone to trade up, he'd be sending word he wants Darnold - just to see if that gets the attention of the Giants or the Jets. Otherwise, why bother with a bluff at No. 1?
Previous Mini-Mock picks: USC QB Sam Darnold (1.0), Wyoming QB Josh Allen (2.0, 3.0)
2. Buffalo Bills (via the GIANTS) - QB Sam Darnold, USC
They are absolutely desperate to get up in the draft and get a quarterback, which probably means they'll have to get to No. 5 at least. I've heard they like Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, but that opinion is usually based on the presumption that they can't get up high enough to draft Darnold. If they get to 2, it's hard to imagine they'd pass on him if he's still there. He's not rated higher than Mayfield by everyone, but it certainly seems by most. The more interesting choice here would be if Darnold went 1. Would the Bills take Allen over Mayfield? I'm not so sure they would.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: UCLA QB Josh Rosen (to Giants 1.0), USC QB Sam Darnold (to Giants 2.0, 3.0).
3. JETS (from Indianapolis Colts) - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
It still seems likely that the Jets are going to have to choose between Mayfield and Rosen. As I mentioned last week, the NFL world seems to think the Jets are taking Mayfield. I'm not 100 percent positive of that yet. I still remember the reservations about his personality that I heard out of One Jets Drive a couple of months back. Things change, sure, but first impressions can be hard to shake. I'm sticking with Mayfield for now, but I'm not ruling Rosen out.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Wyoming QB Josh Allen (1.0), Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (2.0, 3.0).
4. Cleveland Browns - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The only wild-card with this pick seems to be what the Giants do at No. 2. The word most often used to describe Giants GM Dave Gettleman's opinion of Barkley is "love". If the Giants don't go quarterback at 2 I think Barkley would be their pick over N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb and certainly over Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson. In this scenario, though, the Giants trade out and if that happens then quarterbacks are absolutely going 1-2-3, leaving Barkley for the Browns so they can complete their dream first day of the draft.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (1.0, 2.0, 3.0).
5. Denver Broncos - QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
OK, here's the problem with the idea that the Bills will trade up to No. 2. It could be a lot less expensive to trade up to No. 5 and the Bills still could end up with a quarterback here. Honestly, they might even be able to trade up to 6 and stay there and get a quarterback. I've been consistently projecting a quarterback here. Would the Broncos take one? Sure. Would they trade down to someone else who wants one? Sure. Although if the Bills have already moved up, the teams to watch are the Miami Dolphins at 11 and the Arizona Cardinals at 15.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (1.0), UCLA QB Josh Rosen (2.0, 3.0).
6. GIANTS (from Indianapolis Colts, via Jets) - DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
Gettleman is a big believer in big men on both sides of the line. He also knows that championship teams need three things: A quarterback, someone to protect the quarterback, and someone to disrupt the quarterback. If we assume he's going to pass on a franchise quarterback for whatever reason - he thinks they're all flawed, he loves Davis Webb, he thinks Eli Manning can play until he's 45 - he can choose between the other two priorities here. Why Chubb over Nelson? Because of Andrew Norwell. He's the free agent guard that the Giants tried to sign in March. He's also a former undrafted free agent who became an all-pro. The point? Gettleman knows he can find and develop guards. Premiere pass rushers, though, are much harder to find and this draft isn't loaded with them. Chubb can be a huge presence on one end of the Giants' 3-4 and a dangerous 1-2 punch with Olivier Vernon. He can help now and in the future - basically an ideal pick. He's going to get strong consideration at 2, too, but he makes much more sense if the Giants can trade down and still get him, plus an array of extra picks.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson (1.0, 3.0 to Colts), N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb (2.0 to Colts).
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Having Chubb fall so close to them would be a big tease for this team that had an NFL-worst 22 sacks last season. Good thing they have a need at corner too, where Brent Grimes will soon be 35 and Vernon Hargreaves has plenty of talent and youth on his side, but he did get demoted to nickelback last season. They might consider Florida State S Derwin James too, but corner is a bigger need and they're much harder to find.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb (1.0, 3.0), Alabama CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (2.0).
8. Chicago Bears - Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
They've got a lot invested in young QB Mitchell Trubisky, but now they have to protect him - especially up the middle. Nelson is so good that if he were a tackle he might be in the conversation for the top pick. But as a guard, that's hard to justify. Rarely do guards go in the Top 10 because they can be found elsewhere. His uncommon ability makes him an easy choice, though, this low.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Alabama CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (1.0, 3.0), Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson (2.0).
9. San Francisco 49ers - LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
They probably needed linebacker help anyway, but the recent troubling arrest of Rueben Foster on domestic violence charges makes this a bigger need, since he's almost certainly facing a suspension - if the 49ers even bring him back at all. That makes this a choice between Edmunds and George LB Roquan Smith. The 6-1, 236-pound Smith is probably more of a true inside linebacker, which matches more of what the Niners need. But the 6-5, 253-pound Edmunds has such tantalizing athletic ability and near-DE size, that he should get the nod.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds (1.0), Florida State S Derwin James (2.0), Ohio State CB Denzel Ward (3.0).
10. Oakland Raiders - CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Cornerback was a big weakness for the Raiders last season and they didn't get much better during the offseason. They have one side manned for the future with Gareon Conley. This would take care of the other side.
Previous Mini-Mock Picks: George LB Roquan Smith (1.0), Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds (2.0, 3.0).