1. Cleveland Browns – QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
The Browns have their choice of two franchise quarterback prospects with this #1 overall pick, neither of whom is the quarterback they drafted here, Baker Mayfield. Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson is an interesting debate because Jackson has the best individual season of either quarterback, winning MVP in 2019 before Allen had even broken out as a franchise caliber quarterback, but Allen has been the better quarterback in each of the past three seasons and Jackson has missed ten games over the past two seasons combined. For that reason, it’s safer to project Josh Allen as the better quarterback going forward, even if the Browns can’t really go wrong with either option here.
2. New York Giants – QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
The Giants have the easiest choice in this re-draft, selecting whichever franchise quarterback the Browns don’t. The Giants’ original pick here Saquon Barkley is one of the better running backs in the league and the Giants eventually got a good season out of Daniel Jones, a 2019 first round pick, but top running backs aren’t nearly as valuable as top quarterbacks and Jackson is a much higher upside option at quarterback long-term than Jones. Jackson has had injury issues, but is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when healthy and would not fall out of the top-2 in a re-draft.
3. New York Jets – MLB Fred Warner (BYU)
The Jets are out of luck with the top-2 quarterbacks off the board and no clear third franchise quarterback in this draft, but they still have their pick of all of the best players at other positions. That could easily be Fred Warner, who has developed into arguably the best off ball linebacker in the league, despite being a mere third round pick. After a couple solid seasons as a starter to begin his career, Warner took things to another level in his third year and he has finished 1st, 12th, and 4th among off ball linebackers on PFF in three seasons since, one of just three linebackers to finish in the top-12 in each of the past three seasons. If the Jets had him in 2018, they would have needed to overpay veteran free agent CJ Mosley in free agency the next off-season.
4. Cleveland Browns – CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)
The Browns aren’t unhappy with their original pick here, cornerback Denzel Ward, who they signed to a 4-year, 80.4 million extension that makes him the second highest paid cornerback in the league, but they can shoot a little higher in this re-draft and take Jaire Alexander. Ward was the better of the two cornerbacks in terms of PFF grade as a rookie, but Alexander has had the edge in each of the past four seasons since and is signed to a comparable long-term contract (4 years, 84 million) with the team who drafted him 18th overall, the Green Bay Packers. All things equal, I would rather have Alexander, whose best season (#1 ranked among cornerbacks on PFF in 2019) is significantly better than any full season Ward has had (career best 15th ranked finish among cornerbacks in 2020).
5. Denver Broncos – MLB Shaq Leonard (South Carolina State)
Shaq Leonard probably would have gone third if we were doing this re-draft a year ago, but falls slightly after missing almost all of the 2022 season with injury. A second round pick originally, Leonard played so well in his first four years in the league before getting hurt that he still deserves to go this high, finishing 7th, 7th, 10th, and 7th among off ball linebackers on PFF from 2018-2021, the only linebacker to finish in the top-10 in each of those seasons. Only going into his age 28 season in 2023, Leonard is expected to make a full recovery and should bounce back to being one of the best players in the league at his position. The Broncos’ original pick here, Bradley Chubb, had his moments of dominance, but hasn’t been consistently dominant enough to justify being drafted this high again.
6. Indianapolis Colts – G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
Guards don’t usually go this high, but the Colts made an exception for Quenton Nelson and it definitely worked out for them, as Nelson instantly was one of the best guards in the league as a rookie, finishing 5th among guards on PFF, and has remained among the best at his position throughout his career, with three finishes in the top-5 at his position in five seasons in the league, with the exceptions being a couple years where he didn’t play quite as well due to injuries. The Colts, who locked Nelson up on a 4-year, 80 million dollar extension that makes him the highest paid guard in the league, don’t regret this one and would likely make this choice again, even with other great players still available.
7. Buffalo Bills – MLB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
The Bills aren’t able to keep their original pick here, Josh Allen, but they had two first round picks in this draft and got another high level player with their other first round pick, taking off ball linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. They’ll probably have to take him earlier to keep him this time around, but he’s worthy of this pick and the Bills wouldn’t want to lose him. He was a bit inconsistent early in his career, but broke out as PFF’s 11th ranked off ball linebacker in 2022 and, because he was one of the youngest first round picks all of time, he’s still only going into his age 25 season, at least two years younger than most players in this class, so his best days could still be ahead of him and he should remain one of the best players at his position for years to come. A free agent this off-season, Edmunds is a strong candidate for the franchise tag and will likely be one of the highest paid players at his position wherever he ends up.
8. Chicago Bears – MLB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
This was a dominant draft class at the off ball linebacker position and Roquan Smith was no exception. The Bears original pick here at 8, Smith was eventually traded to the Ravens during the 2022 season when the Bears could not agree on a long-term contract, but they got high level play from him for most of his four and a half seasons in Chicago and recouped a second round pick in a trade for him, so they would probably make this pick again if they had a choice.
9. San Francisco 49ers – S Derwin James (Florida State)
Derwin James would likely have been a top-5 pick in this redraft if not for injuries, as he’s missed 32 games in 5 seasons in the league, but the 49ers have never been too worried about adding injury prone players and James is among the best safeties in the league when healthy, finishing 6th, 11th, and 12th among safeties on PFF in his three healthy seasons in the league. The 49ers had Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt at safety in 2018, but both of those players are injury prone and both Ward and James have the versatility to line up in a bunch of different spots, so the 49ers could easily play all three at the same time, assuming all are healthy. The 49ers originally used a third round pick in this draft to add at the safety position, taking Tarvarius Moore, but James is obviously an upgrade.
10. Arizona Cardinals – RB Nick Chubb (Georgia)
The Cardinals mistakenly gave a big contract extension to running back David Johnson during the 2018 off-season, which led to Johnson being paid about 20.5 million between 2018 and 2019 to average just 3.65 YPC across 352 carries. They could have avoided that if they had added an elite running back in the 2018 NFL Draft. Saquon Barkley is the best all-around back in this draft when he’s healthy, but Chubb is one of the best pure runners of the football in the league, averaging 5.24 YPC in his career, highest in the league among running backs with at least 1,000 carries over the past five seasons and he has been much more durable than Barkley has been throughout his career (7 games missed vs. 22 games missed), so he gets the slight edge here.
11. Miami Dolphins – S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
The Dolphins originally drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick here and traded him a year later to the Steelers for another first round pick after an underwhelming rookie season. Fitzpatrick has broken out as one of the top safeties in the league since being sent to Pittsburgh though, finishing in the top-11 among safeties on PFF three times, maxing out as their 4th ranked safety in 2022, so the Dolphins might like to keep him if they had the chance to redo this.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
The Buccaneers had a big need for a running back in the 2018 off-season and, because they didn’t add one, they had to give 388 carries to Peyton Barber between 2018 and 2019, which he took for just a 3.46 YPC average. Saquon Barkley comes with some injury risk, but he’s rushed for 4.45 YPC and 29 touchdowns on 954 carries in his career, while adding another 247 catches and 8 touchdowns in the air in 60 career games, despite playing on a Giants offense that has generally been subpar around him throughout his career. He could especially thrive on a more talented Buccaneers offense.
13. Washington Redskins – WR DJ Moore (Maryland)
In 2017, the Redskins were led in receiving by Jamison Crowder, who had just a 66/789/3 slash line, and things got even worse in 2018, when their best wide receiver was Josh Doctson, with a 44/532/2 slash line. They could have really used a wide receiver like DJ Moore, who ranks 11th in the NFL with 5,201 receiving yards since entering the league in 2018, despite inconsistent quarterback play in Carolina.
14. New Orleans Saints – DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
Bradley Chubb is an interesting case. He was the 5th overall pick in this draft by the Broncos originally and has had stretches of high level pass rush play, with 27.5 sacks, 35 hits, and a 11.6% pressure rate in 46 games across the 2018, 2020, 2022 seasons combined, but injuries limited him to just 1 sack, 9 hits, and a 7.6% pressure rate in 11 games in his other two seasons and he’s consistently left something to be desired as a run defender. His pass rush potential still makes him a valuable player, returning a first round pick to the Broncos when they traded him to the Dolphins during his contract year in 2022 and then receiving a 5-year, 110 million dollar extension once arriving in Miami, so he would still go relatively high in a re-draft, but he could fall out of the top-10. He would be a good fit for the Saints, who originally took another pass rusher here, Marcus Davenport, who has had a less impressive career than Chubb.
15. Oakland Raiders – OT Kolton Miller (UCLA)
Kolton Miller was regarded as a reach when the Raiders selected him 15th overall in this draft and he struggled early in his career, finishing 81st among 85 eligible offensive tackles on PFF as a rookie, but he’s arguably gotten better every season and has developed into one of the better players in the league at his position, finishing 44th, 34th, 8th, and 5th among offensive tackles on PFF over the past four seasons respectively. The Raiders, who kept him on a 3-year, 54 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago, would likely take him again in this scenario.
16. Buffalo Bills – G Wyatt Teller (Virginia Tech)
Along with Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills also selected another stud player in this draft, guard Wyatt Teller, but unfortunately for them, they gave up on him too early and have watched him develop into one of the best guards in the league with the Browns, after the Bills traded the former 5th round pick to the Browns one year into his career, along with a 7th round pick, in exchange for a 5th and a 6th round pick. Teller was a backup for most of his first season in Cleveland, but, in three seasons since, Teller has finished 1st, 5th, and 17th among guards on PFF, cementing himself as one of the best players in the league at his position. The Bills get a chance to redeem themselves for that mistake and keep him this time around. He would have been a higher pick in this redraft if he didn’t take some time to develop, but he’s still worthy of a relatively high pick, even as an interior offensive lineman.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Braden Smith (Auburn)
The Chargers have had offensive line problems seemingly for years, particularly at the right tackle position. Braden Smith, a second round pick in this draft, was an above average starting right tackle from the word go, finishing 29th among offensive tackles on PFF as a rookie, before finishing 9th, 17th, 16th, and 19th among offensive tackles over the past four seasons, making him one of the most consistent players in the league at his position, one of just three tackles to finish in the top-19 at the position on PFF in each of the past four seasons. If the Chargers had drafted him in 2018, they could have avoided the ill-advised free agent signing of Bryan Bulaga two off-seasons later. Right tackles aren’t quite as valued as left tackles, which is why Smith is still available, but he’s a great fit for the Chargers because that has been their worst position on the offensive line in recent years.
18. Green Bay Packers – CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
The Packers’ original pick here, Jaire Alexander, went off the board much earlier, as he has developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the league, but they can get a solid replacement for him with Denzel Ward still on the board. Ward is an intriguing case because he went 4th overall to the Browns and was kept by the Browns on a 5-year, 100.5 million dollar extension that makes him the second highest paid cornerback in the league, but he’s never missed fewer than two games in a season and he’s never finished higher than 15th among cornerbacks on PFF, while falling to 95th out of 136 eligible cornerbacks in an injury plagued 2022 campaign. He’s still a worthwhile addition for the Packers at this point though.
19. Dallas Cowboys – DE Josh Sweat (Florida State)
The Cowboys had just used a first round pick on an edge defender Taco Charlton in the 2017 NFL Draft, so it’s not surprising they didn’t take another one early in 2018, but Charlton was a massive bust who was gone from the Cowboys by 2019, so, in hindsight, they should have taken another edge defender early in 2018 to give them a bookend for DeMarcus Lawrence. Josh Sweat, who went to divisional rival Philadelphia in the 4th round, would be a good fit for the Cowboys. He took a couple years to develop and barely played as a rookie, but he has seen his sack total increase in every season in the league, leading to a career high 11 in 2022, and, in total, he has 28.5 sacks, 27 hits, and a 10.4% pressure rate in 62 games over the past four seasons, while playing at a high level against the run as well.
20. Detroit Lions – C Frank Ragnow (Arkansas)
Centers don’t usually go in the first round, but the Lions likely have no regrets about taking Frank Ragnow here originally and would likely take him again in this scenario. Originally a guard as a rookie in 2018, Ragnow was moved to center in his second season in the league and has been one of the best players in the league at the position ever since, ranking 6th and 2nd among centers on PFF in 2019 and 2020 respectively, missing almost all of 2021 with injury, but returning to finish 5th on PFF in 2022, anchoring one of the league’s best offensive line and run games. The Lions kept him on a 4-year, 54 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago, making him the highest paid center in the league.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Brian O’Neill (Pittsburgh)
The Bengals had the underwhelming Bobby Hart at right tackle during the 2018 season and that position has remained a weakness for years since, one they unsuccessfully tried to fill with free agent signing La’El Collins last off-season. Brian O’Neill, a second round pick in this draft originally, has started 75 games at right tackle for the Vikings over the past five seasons and has earned at least an average grade from PFF in all five seasons, including a 24th ranked finish among offensive tackles in 2020 and a 8th ranked finish in 2022.
22. Tennessee Titans – TE Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)
The Titans were led in receiving by tight end Delanie Walker in 2017, but he was at the end of his career at that point and would catch just 25 more passes in his career. With Walker missing much of the year, the 2018 Titans didn’t have a tight end with more than 20 catches so someone like Mark Andrews would have been a big upgrade. Despite playing on a run heavy offense in Baltimore, Andrews has the third most receiving yards among tight ends since entering the league, while finishing in the top-5 among tight ends on PFF on each of the past four seasons, making him one of the best and most consistent players in the league at his position.
23. New England Patriots – OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
The Patriots original pick here, left tackle Isaiah Wynn, had an up and down, injury plagued tenure in New England and can be easily upgraded in a redraft. Despite only being a third round pick, Brown, a Ravens draft pick, took over as a starter in week 7 of his rookie year and has made 75 of a possible 76 starts since, playing on both the right and the left side, while earning an above average grade from PFF in all five seasons, the last two of which came in Kansas City, who gave up a first round pick to acquire him in a trade. He’s not a truly elite player, maxing out as PFF’s 17th ranked offensive tackle for a season, but he’s highly reliable and consistent and a good value at this point in the draft.
24. Carolina Panthers – DT Vita Vea (Washington)
In the 2018 off-season, the Panthers had just lost defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to the Bills in free agency, being signed away on a big contract. They added veteran Dontari Poe as a replacement, but he was a middling option in his two years in Carolina and Vea would give them a much higher upside option inside next to Kawaan Short, who was getting up there in age at this point anyway. Vea was originally drafted 12th overall by the Buccaneers and only slips out of the top-20 because he’s coming off a down 2022 (career worst 62nd among interior defenders on PFF, particularly struggling against the run) and has missed 18 games in 5 seasons in the league. His upside is too good to pass on at this point though.
25. Baltimore Ravens – OT Jordan Mailata (Australia)
The Ravens originally used this pick on tight end Hayden Hurst, who has proven to be a bust. They did get steals in the 3rd round of this draft, when they took offensive tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, but both have already been snatched up and are not available for the Ravens at this pick. They can still draft a good player at one of those positions though. Mailata is not as NFL ready as Brown was, coming to the NFL from Australia and not playing any college football, leading to Mailata not playing a single offensive snap in his first two seasons in the league, but he has broken out as one of the best left tackles in the league in three seasons since, finishing 42nd, 3rd, and 16th among offensive tackles on PFF. If the Ravens are willing to be patient, he is a steal at this point in the draft.
26. Atlanta Falcons – DE John Franklin-Myers (Stephen F. Austin)
I feel like I am giving the Falcons pass rush help every year in these redrafts, but for a team that hasn’t topped 39 sacks since 2004, that’s not surprising. John Franklin-Myers might not seem like someone worthy of this pick, but he’s developed into a very effective pass rusher, one capable of lining up both inside and outside. His sack totals don’t jump off the page and he took a couple years to develop, in part due to an injury that cost him his entire second season, but since returning from that injury he has added 32 hits and a 13.3% pressure rate to his 14 sacks over the past three seasons, very impressive for a player who frequently lines up inside as well. Overall, he has finished with a PFF pass rush grade of 76 or higher in each of the past three seasons, while holding his own against the run as well.
27. Seattle Seahawks – CB Charvarius Ward (Middle Tennessee State)
Charvarius Ward was never more than a solid cornerback in the first four years of his career with the Chiefs, but the 2018 undrafted free agent signed a 3-year, 40.5 million deal with the 49ers last off-season and promptly broke out as one of the top cornerbacks in the league in his first year in his new home, finishing as PFF’s 4th ranked cornerback, after previously topping out at 40th among cornerbacks in 2019. He played well enough last season to get first round consideration even after a nondescript start to his career. He would fill a big need for the Seahawks, who like big cornerbacks like the 6’1” Ward.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – S Jessie Bates (Wake Forest)
The Steelers originally drafted safety Terrell Edmunds here and, while he’s been a decent starter, the Steelers can shoot higher at the position in a redraft, rather than using a first round pick again on a player they only re-signed for 2.5375 million over 1 year last off-season, after declining his 5th year option. Jessie Bates has been inconsistent throughout his career in Cincinnati, who took him in the second round originally, but he’s been one of the better safeties in the league at his best, finishing 12th, 1st, and 13th among safeties on PFF in 2018, 2020, and 2022 respectively, while middling seasons in 2019 and 2021 in between. He played well enough for the Bengals to franchise tag him last off-season and he figures to end up as one of the highest paid safeties in the league as a free agent this off-season, regardless of where he ends up. He could be a fit for the Steelers, who could have had him five years ago and kept him away from a divisional rival if they took him instead of Edmunds.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)
Before signing Evan Engram to a one-year deal last off-season, the Jaguars hadn’t had a tight end with more than 350 receiving yards in a season since 2015. That would have been different if they had drafted Dallas Goedert at the end of the first round in 2018, which was commonly projected to them in mock drafts. Goedert has the 6th most receiving yards among tight ends since entering the league and would likely have had significantly more production if he didn’t spend the first three and a half years of his career splitting time with another talented tight end Zach Ertz. Even with his production being limited by splitting time, the Eagles still kept Goedert on a 4-year, 57 million dollar extension that makes him the 4th highest paid tight end in the league and he figures to prove to be worth it, now as the full-time starter.
30. Minnesota Vikings – OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
The Vikings’ original pick here, cornerback Mike Hughes, was a bust who played just 24 games in three seasons for the Vikings before being traded away for a swap of a 7th round pick for a 6th round pick. They hit their second round pick, taking right tackle Brian O’Neill, but he’s already been taken in this scenario. Instead, they take another right tackle, Mike McGlinchey, who has also been a solid starting right tackle in his career, making 69 starts in five seasons with the 49ers, with his best years coming in 2018 (23rd among offensive tackles on PFF) and 2020 (21st). He didn’t quite live up to being the 9th overall pick in this draft, but he should still be a sought after free agent on the open market this off-season and is still worth a late first round pick in a redraft.
31. New England Patriots – WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
The Patriots have famously struggled to draft wide receivers in the first round, but Christian Kirk, originally a second round pick by the Cardinals, would have been a good selection for them, to give them a much needed additional weapon for Tom Brady to throw to, late in his career in New England. Kirk was considered an overpay when he signed a 4-year, 72 million dollar deal with the Jaguars last off-season, but he broke out with his first 1000 yard season in his first season in Jacksonville in 2022 and the talented young receiver could have had more success early in his career if he was paired with a quarterback like Brady.
32. Baltimore Ravens – DE Marcus Davenport (UT San Antonio)
Originally taken 14th overall by the Saints, who traded away a future first round pick to move up to select him, Marcus Davenport has been a bit of a disappointment, managing just 21.5 sacks thus far in his career and missing at least two games with injury in every season in the league, with 19 games missed total. However, his peripheral pass rush numbers paint a better picture, as he also has 38 quarterback hits and a 13.1% pressure rate for his career. Also a good run defender, that has led to Davenport consistently finishing above average on PFF, with his best seasons coming in 2019 (18th among edge defenders) and 2021 (6th). His snap counts have been underwhelming, playing in just 450 snaps per season in his career, but there’s enough potential here for him to be taken in the late first round again in a redraft and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he got a lucrative contract on the open market as a free agent this off-season, despite his underwhelming sack totals. He would be a good fit for a Ravens team that in the 2018 off-season was a year away from losing Terrell Suggs to retirement and Za’Darius Smith to free agency.