It has only been three years since the 2018 NFL Draft, but we have seen an exceptional amount of talent rise from this class.
Twenty different players have made a Pro Bowl appearance, and nine of them have made an All-Pro team.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 15, 2019
However, none of them were able to make the cut.
While this is partially due to positional importance, it speaks volumes to the quality of this draft.
Here is how the top five picks would have gone if we knew then what we know now.
#1 Cleveland Browns – Josh Allen, QB
They went a historic 0-16 the season prior and looked to Mayfield to end their quarterback carousel for good.
While that selection has worked out, the Browns could have had an even more lethal attack with Josh Allen.
Allen was a project coming out of the University of Wyoming and struggled immensely with turnovers and accuracy.
However, scouts drooled over the mobile 6’5″, 237-pound quarterback with a rocket booster attached to his right shoulder.
The Buffalo Bills traded up to draft him seventh and have done well in developing their franchise signal-caller.
Josh Allen growth –
2019: 58.8% comp% (32nd), 19.6 ppg (23rd), 201.8 pass ypg (26th), 85.3 passer rate (24th), 20 pass TD (21st)
2020: 69.2% comp% (4th), 31.3 ppg (2nd), 288.8 pass ypg (3rd), 107.2 passer rate (4th), 37 pass TD (5th)
Yep. That's a big improvement. #Bills
— Maddy Glab (@MadGlab) January 25, 2021
Allen had a banner year in 2020, combining for nearly 5,000 yards of offense and 45 total touchdowns.
It is difficult to determine whether Allen would have made the same progression had the Browns drafted him, but his upward trajectory is enough to catapult him to the top of this hypothetical redo.
#2 New York Giants – Lamar Jackson, QB
With the second overall pick, they selected running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State University.
He was a prodigious talent that checked all the boxes for a team in desperate need of a star alongside Odell Beckham Jr.
Barkley dominated his rookie season, too, amassing over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 15 total touchdowns, and ultimately won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Yet, the Giants still underwhelmed with a 5-11 record.
Therefore, it would have been in the Giants’ best interest to draft a quarterback for the future.
Though he took a step back from his 2019 MVP campaign, Lamar Jackson is still an electric player at the most crucial position.
He holds the single-season rushing record for a quarterback and has consecutive years of at least 1,000 yards rushing.
Lamar Jackson 1,000-yard rushing seasons: 2
All other QBs in NFL history 1,000-yard rushing seasons combined: 1
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 3, 2021
He would have injected new life into a Giants offense that frequently stalled under the direction of Manning.
Jackson has his share of doubters, but his dual-threat ability and production are unquestionable, making him a worthy choice.
#3 New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB
The slide for Mayfield ends just two slots later, who ends up with the New York Jets.
The Jets traded with the Indianapolis Colts before the draft to choose USC quarterback Sam Darnold third overall.
Darnold’s combination of physical traits and intangibles were enough to overlook his propensity for turnovers at USC.
His flaws reared their ugly head during his time with the Jets, though, as he has recorded 50 total touchdowns to 48 turnovers in 38 games.
Mayfield, on the other hand, was a more polished product coming out of college.
While he didn’t have the desired height or arm strength, he earned his praise as a proven winner with precise timing and accuracy.
He also has the swagger to succeed in a market like New York and could likely withstand the constant pressure applied by the fanbase and media.
#Browns: won 11 games for the 1st time since 1994, ended 18-year playoff drought, won a playoff game for the first time since 1994, sent the #Steelers home for the winter, verified Baker Mayfield is "the guy"
Most successful campaign in 3 decades for the franchise.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) January 17, 2021
Mayfield may not have the gaudy totals like Allen or Jackson, but he still does enough to warrant the third selection.
#4 Cleveland Browns – Quenton Nelson, OG
The Browns had another pick in the top five thanks to a trade with the Houston Texans in 2017.
They went with Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, who has flourished in his three seasons with the Browns.
He made the Pro Bowl in his first season and has been a shutdown corner ever since.
However, while Ward has been near the top of his position, Quenton Nelson is the undisputed best guard in the game.
This is the content I’m here for. A Quenton Nelson pancake highlight video! 🥞🥞🥞🥞🥞 pic.twitter.com/VcxmsAjBPv
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 7, 2020
In each of his three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Nelson has been a Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro guard.
He is durable, dominant in both run and pass blocking, and has given up just three sacks in his career.
Nelson immediately solidifies a subpar group for the Browns in 2018 and protects new quarterback Allen in this redraft.
#5 Denver Broncos – Darius Leonard, LB
Current Colts players go back-to-back in this redo, as Darius Leonard gets drafted by the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos were looking to improve their defense and selected linebacker Bradley Chubb out of South Carolina.
Chubb has impressed with the Broncos, racking up 12 sacks his rookie year and making the Pro Bowl this last season.
However, his track record pales in comparison to what Darius Leonard has done.
Leonard has been an All-Pro all three years (two First Team, one Second Team) and made two Pro Bowl appearances so far.
He can rush the passer, sink back in coverage, or stuff running backs at the line of scrimmage.
Since 2018, Darius Leonard is the only player with 400+ tackles and 15+ sacks… pic.twitter.com/3r44q3L6tQ
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) February 15, 2021
Simply put, he is one of the best linebackers in the game, if not one of the best defenders.