The NFL Scouting Combine begins later today and I think it's about time I wrote up a mock draft for only the second time since becoming a sports writer. My first was a top-10 mock over at NinerNoise.com. You may view that article here. I'm very confident in my ability to analyze the NFL draft landscape, as I've been practicing since the 2011 draft and I can't wait to put my skills on display in the coming months.

1. Cleveland Browns - Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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The Browns must select their quarterback of the future, right?

2. New York Giants - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Giants take advantage of their high draft position and land Eli Manning's replacement.

3. Indianapolis Colts - Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under new head coach Frank Reich and reportedly covet speed at the defensive end position. Chubb is the best in this class and value meets need, so the Colts rush the card to commissioner Roger Goodell's podium.

4. Cleveland Browns - Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Browns land the best player on most draft boards at this stage and pair Sam Darnold with a great running back.

5. Denver Broncos - Baker Mayfield, QB, Oaklahoma

Until free agency plays out, the Broncos biggest need is a quarterback. The only question is this: Which of either Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen would general manager John Elway prefer?

6. New York Jets - Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

This is one of the times I will take free agency into account. My gut tells me that the Jets land Kirk Cousins, eliminating their need for a quarterback. Nelson is the best player available and will help protect the team's new investment.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Bucs will be losing safety T.J. Ward in free agency after one underwhelming season in Tampa, according to a Twitter report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. With Chris Conte as the other starting safety, there is a huge hole to fill. Tampa Bay grabs a top-5 talent at No. 7 and stabilizes their defensive backfield.

8. Chicago Bears - Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

There may be some debate between Denzel Ward of Ohio State and Josh Jackson of Iowa as to which corner is the better player coming into this year's draft. The Bears take the better of the two, Jackson, as standout cornerback Kyle Fuller is out the door from Chicago to his free agent destination.

9. San Francisco 49ers - Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The 49ers need to go into free agency to patch the linebacker position. I've written more about that in my Niner Noise article "5 must-do tasks for the 2018 offseason," which will be posted on the site later today or early Wednesday. But Edmunds fills a huge need on the 49ers, as he can play outside linebacker as an off-the-ball linebacker or edge rusher in sub-packages.

P.S.- The 49ers may pick 10th if they lose a coin flip to the Oakland Raiders this Friday, March 2nd.

10. Oakland Raiders - Vita Vea, DL, Washington

The Raiders could go in a ton of directions, all of which likely include a defensive pick, but Vita Vea fills maybe the biggest need. Oakland's interior defensive line is terrible and this pick would help take pressure off Khalil Mack on the edge. Vea can command double-teams on the inside so Mack can have one-on-ones outside. This can also work vice-versa.

So, a few notes for readers. I try not to project what will happen in free agency when I mock a draft at this point in the offseason. It is too risky and I want to get a feel for team's needs throughout the process. There is an ebb and flow that happens during the draft process, but ultimately our first inclination can end up correct if we just stick with it. The Kirk Cousins to the Jets prediction is an anomaly for me.

Along with my first point, the Browns and Giants logically should take their quarterbacks of the future at pick Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, but free agency could change this. Another feeling I have is that the Browns could sign former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron -- a trade with the Bengals fell through with the Browns -- and that could shake up the top-5, dropping the quarterbacks down at least one spot. But McCarron said he wanted to play in Cleveland, so it feels like a reunion with Hugh Jackson is probable.

To sum up, don't project free agents to teams when mocking a draft and try to think outside the box, using team needs and player rankings as a guide. Stay tuned. I'm just getting warmed up!