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NFL Insider Lorenzo Reyes breaks down the x-factors in each NFC wild card matchup

The draft is almost four months away, but more than half of the NFL's teams have turned their focus to next season.



Any mock draft compiled at this point will be inherently flawed, as underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to decide whether to declare or to stay in college. With that said, here's our initial look at how the first round might pan out based on the league's projected order (picks 1-20 are essentially set).

1. Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California: Darnold's positioning here might be precarious, as a 24-turnover season highlighted concerns about his footwork and ability to identify coverages. But few can match his playmaking ability and long-term potential, and his style and demeanor might be what Hue Jackson and GM John Dorsey need to give the organization some sense of direction.

2. Giants — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: New GM Dave Gettleman seems prepared to move ahead with Eli Manning next season, but it will be hard to forego drafting a quarterback with the organization's first top-five pick in 14 years. In Rosen, the Giants would get one of the most mechanically sound pocket passers in years. Concerns about his outspoken style and proclivity for forcing throws will dominate the pre-draft discussion, but sitting behind Manning before he takes the reins could provide a promising transition.


3. Colts — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Given its languid pass rush and offensive line that gave up a league-worst 56 sacks lhis season, Indianapolis might be hard-pressed to take a running back this high, especially in a deep class. Barkley, however, is the sort of do-everything weapon who can be a transformational piece and give quarterback Andrew Luck the help he'll need in a potential return. And it doesn't hurt his case that owner Jim Irsay recently advocated for giving Luck an "Edgerrin James type of player."

4. Browns (from Texans) — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: With quarterback addressed, Cleveland can look to add another building block to join Myles Garrett on defense. Fitzpatrick's versatility will make him an immediate asset on a unit that recorded just seven interceptions last season.

14. Packers — Arden Key, DE-OLB, LSU: On physical tools alone, the 6-6 Key looks like a top-five pick. But concerns about his injury history and substantial weight gain last season will follow him through the pre-draft process. Green Bay needs to reinvigorate its defense, and Key's value at this spot is enticing.

15. Cardinals — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: The retirements of Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians leave Arizona essentially starting from scratch offensively. Although it's unclear what direction the next coaching staff will take, Jackson could pair with David Johnson to give the Cardinals one of the NFL's most dynamic backfields. 

16. Ravens — James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Baltimore's longstanding woes at wide receiver reached a crescendo in 2017, with Joe Flacco averaging a career-low 5.7 yards per attempt in a dink-and-dunk attack. Despite lacking the physical profile of an elite target, Washington has proved he can win both by hauling in deep throws and by creating separation.

17. Chargers — Connor Williams, OT, Texas: Philip Rivers was sacked the fewest times (18) of any season in which he has been a full-time starter, but the run game fell flat at times. Williams could start off on the right side and eventually take over for Russell Okung.

18. Seahawks — Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio: Pete Carroll's defenses depend on creating havoc up front, and uncertain futures for Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett could limit Seattle's options. Enter Davenport, a little-known edge rusher who shouldn't fly under the radar for long given his impressive length and array of moves.

19. Cowboys — Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: Dallas' front four is in the best shape it's been in for some time, though the team will have to figure out how to keep DE DeMarcus Lawrence as well as handle restricted free agent David Irving. Regardless of how free agency shakes out, Wilkins would add further depth on the interior with an attractive blend of quickness and power.



20. Lions — Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: Ignoring the pass rush might be difficult, especially if Ziggy Ansah goes elsewhere. But Detroit had the NFL's worst rushing attack and has finished in the bottom five in each of the last four years. Guice offers rare big-play ability and could take some of the pressure off quarterback Matthew Stafford.

21. Titans — Harold Landry, DE-OLB, Boston College: Tennessee finished tied for fifth with 43 sacks, but it could still use some fresh blood off the edge. A natural pass rusher with outstanding bend, Landry should provide quick returns if he can improve his strength.

22. Bills — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Touted as a potential No. 1 overall pick before the season, he offered only glimpses of his potential as he completed 56.3% of his passes. Yet some team will look past the erratic ball placement and suspect field vision, instead focusing on the player he could become given his arm strength and 6-5, 230-pound build. Buffalo revealed its misgivings on Tyrod Taylor via a midseason benching, and just $1 million of the veteran's 2018 salary is guaranteed.

23. Jaguars — Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: With Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee set to become free agents, Jacksonville might need to add a young target. Kirk excels at taking short throws for long gains and would further reduce the burden on Blake Bortles (or whoever is under center next season in Jacksonville).

24. Bills (from Chiefs) — Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Defensive-minded coach Sean McDermott has to be stewing over his run defense, which gave up an NFL-high 22 touchdowns this season. The 6-5, 340-pound Vea not only commands double teams but also delivers a serious push up front.

25. Falcons — Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: Dontari Poe is set to become a free agent, and Atlanta could use another asset on the interior to place next to Grady Jarrett. Hurst somewhat duplicates Jarrett's relatively compact frame, but he's powerful and disruptive against both the run and pass.

26. Rams — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: Although lacking the elite ball skills and closing speed of former Buckeyes teammate Marshon Lattimore, Ward is a standout cover corner who should be the fourth Ohio State product at his position to be taken in the first round since 2016. Los Angeles' interest could intensify if Trumaine Johnson departs after being franchise-tagged the last two years.

27. Saints — Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: Improved play at linebacker was a crucial part of New Orleans' defensive surge, but more athleticism is needed at the position. Jefferson brings plenty of that, though questions linger about why his collegiate production didn't match his potential.

28. Panthers — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson: Carolina cobbled together an ultimately impressive pass rush thanks in large part to 37-year-old Julius Peppers, who tied for the team lead with 11 sacks. Ferrell has the length and burst that defenses seek in edge rushers, and the 20-year-old should only become more productive as he refines his game.

29. Steelers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Pittsburgh's previously top-ranked pass defense slipped late in the season as cornerback Artie Burns and others made repeated mistakes. Jackson, who led the Football Bowl Subdivision with eight interceptions, brings the size (6-1, 192 pounds) and skill set necessary to handle man coverage against the Patriots and other premier passing attacks.

30. Eagles — Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan: Jason Peters' season-ending knee injury highlighted the need to find another offensive tackle, even if the 35-year-old returns next season. A three-year starter, Okorafor could continue to polish his game and provide all-important protection for Carson Wentz.

31. Patriots — Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: There's no such thing as too many pass rushers in New England, which has several young options but no standouts. The Urban Meyer pipeline could continue with Hubbard, a well-rounded (albeit unflashy) defender.

32. Vikings — Billy Price, C-G, Ohio State: One year after finding a steal in third-round center Pat Elflein, Minnesota could look to Columbus, Ohio, again to further bolster its interior line. Price won the Rimington Trophy as the country's best center but has the versatility to thrive at guard as well.



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