The 2018 Reese’s’ Senior Bowl has officially passed, leaving the NFL combine as the next big test for prospects of the 2018 draft.
In my first mock draft of the year, I laid a foundation for what teams could possibly do with their selection when they are officially on the clock come April in Arlington, Texas. The talk of the process this season is what the Cleveland Browns are going to do with the No.1 overall pick and just where the rest of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class will fall. Now, this is not a statement saying that this is who teams will end up drafting nor is it my big board. Based on scheme fit, players may end up going higher or lower than where they are currently projected on my board. This is a mere proposal to who they could select based on scheme fit and need.
Also, there is a tie between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders for the 9th overall pick that will be settled by a coin-flip at the combine. The Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs are also the lone teams in the league (as of right now) that will not have a selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Mock Draft 1.0
1. Cleveland Browns
Pick: Sam Darnold, QB (Southern California)
It all depends on how active the Browns are in courting pending free agents quarterbacks this season, but my gut and really, my heart, tells me that the tossup is between Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. However, Rosen has already publicly stated that he prefers not to be selected by the Browns. Despite a down year, Darnold has impressive tools that could make it too hard to pass up on.
2. New York Giants
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB (UCLA)
If Rosen doesn’t go No.1 overall, he won’t last on the board too long. Despite new Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the front office stating that they expect Eli Manning to be the starter on opening day, that’s not to say that the team won’t select his heir. Rosen may be the most gifted quarterback in the class, showing a great presence in the pocket and the ability to make every “NFL” throw.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: Bradley Chubb, EDGE (NC State)
The Colts were 31st in the league in total sacks with 25. In fact, Jabaal Sheard led the team with 5.5. Chubb is the most polished pass rusher in the class, showing the ability to win with power and speed in a multitude of fashions.
4. Cleveland Browns (From Houston)
Pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB (Alabama)
I know that the Browns selected Jabrill Peppers in the first round last season. However, they still could use an upgrade. Fitzpatrick has all the tools to be a quality starter in the NFL, possessing good range and the ability to play within the box when rolled into single-high.
5. Denver Broncos
Pick: Baker Mayfield, QB (Oklahoma)
Another team who could use the No.5 pick in a multitude ways depending on the success of adding a veteran during the free agency period, Denver may end up getting their wish. They requested to have Mayfield on their roster during Senior Bowl week, and from all accounts out of Mobile, had a strong showing.
6. New York Jets
Pick: Josh Allen, QB (Wyoming)
This really could be Lamar Jackson and with a strong showing at the combine – if he elects to throw – could help further the movement and much-needed discussion of him being one of the top quarterbacks. However, whether we love it or hate it, some front office is going to take Josh Allen in the Top 10. He possesses some intriguing traits, one being a cannon for an arm. He may need some time, but if developed properly, this could end up paying off for the Jets.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Quinten Nelson, OG (Notre Dame)
There are a few different directions the Bucs opt to go at No.7. They could easily go running back with Penn State product Saquon Barkley, giving Jameis Winston an all-around threat in the backfield. They should go offensive line, especially with a pair of interior offensive lineman being free agents. Quinten Nelson is downright nasty and possesses great feet to pair with great strength.
8. Chicago Bears
Pick: Calvin Ridley, WR (Alabama)
The Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky in last year’s draft. Unfortunately, they forgot to reload the roster with capable receivers. Fans and analysts have yet to see the true potential of former first-round pick Kevin White, who played in five games since being drafted in 2015. A smooth route runner with great hands, Ridley could easily become a No.1 for the Bears.
*9. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB (Penn State)
Carlos Hyde is a pending free agent and despite having a market value of nearly $6 million according to Spoctrac.com, could be elsewhere next season. There will have to be a few things to fall in line for Barkley to fall to nine, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be happy to have the big-play ability of the Penn State product.
*9. Oakland Raiders
Pick: Roquan Smith, LB (Georgia)
If cornerback isn’t the selection, linebacker very well could be. Navarro Bowman is a pending free agent who signed with Oakland after being released prior to Week 7. Reports have noted that the Raiders have it as a priority to resign the 29-year-old linebacker.
11. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB (Virginia Tech)
With Raekwon McMillan on schedule to return from an ACL tear suffered in the first preseason game of his rookie year, adding a piece to join him and Kiko Alonso would help solidify the front seven for the Phins. Edmunds is a tremendous talent, having a rare blend of athleticism and speed.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Connor Williams, OT (Texas)
The Bengals saw a drop in offensive production, which surprisingly, can be correlated to the struggles of the offensive line. While he had a down year at Texas, which included a minor knee injury, Williams is the best tackle in the class.
13. Washington Redskins
Pick: Vita Vea, DT (Washington)
The Redskins have to hope they can get something done with quarterback Kirk Cousins. If they do, strengthening the defensive front would be the next place to rebuild. They were near the bottom of the league in stopping the run. Boasting great size to blend with his strength and athleticism, Vea will help bolster a defensive front that could see the departure of Phil Taylor in free agency.
14. Green Bay Packers
Pick: Denzel Ward, CB (Ohio State)
The Packers need help on the edges. Ward is a fundamentally sound corner who possesses great feet, fluid hips and comfort playing the ball in the air.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Orlando Brown Jr., OT (Oklahoma)
The Cardinals are certainly going to be in the market this offseason for a quarterback. If they are able to land one of the few pieces available, upgrading the offensive line jumps to the No.1 priority. Brown has an overall game that doesn’t possess many flaws and would immediately be a presence within the unit.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: James Washington, WR (Oklahoma State)
The Ravens have to find a way to get Joe Flacco capable weapons. With five players from the position group – to include Mike Wallace – pending free agents, the team is left with the “sure-handed” Breshad Perriman and the speedy Jeremy Maclin. Washington is a big play waiting to happen, averaging over 20 yards a catch in college. If Wallace were to leave, Washington’s speed could fill the void.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: Derwin James, SAF (Florida State)
Tre Boston could be gone. James a physical, rangy safety that would give Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley a piece that is similar to the one he had in Seattle with Kam Chancellor.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Mike McGlinchey, OT (Notre Dame)
The Seahawks could go in a multitude of directions. They may be nearing a possible rebuild in the secondary while also possibly having to reload within the trenches. If they want to return to prominence, solidifying the offensive line is a critical step. McGlinchey could be an immediate fill at either tackle position.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Maurice Hurst, DT (Michigan)
Brian Price, Stephen Paea and David Irving are all free agents within the interior. DeMarcus Lawrence is going to be the top priority of any of the four defensive linemen. Maliek Collins is best served as a rotational player rather than receiving the bulk of the snaps. Hurst has an explosive first step that will give the Cowboys more of a presence up front.
20. Detroit Lions
Pick: Da’Ron Payne, DT (Alabama)
Haloti Ngata is a free agent and may not be back in Detroit and even if he is, the production is on the decline. Payne is the most fundamentally sound interior tackle in the class and even sports the athleticism to be bounced out as an end in certain packages.
21. Buffalo Bills
Pick: Joshua Jackson, CB (Iowa)
The Bills have to reload in the secondary after trading away Ronald Darby and losing Stephon Gilmore. Jackson’s ability to play the ball may help put an offensive guided by whoever under center in good positions.
22. Buffalo Bills (From Kansas City)
Pick: Taven Bryan, DT (Florida)
The Bills didn’t just trade away their best corner last season; they also traded away their best defensive tackle. Bryan has freakish athleticism for a 290-pound player that could bring the return of a presence that was lost by the trade.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Pick: Billy Price, OG/C (Ohio State)
The Rams offense and really, the team in general was a pleasant surprise last season. Adding Price is going to only help strengthen an offense that was near the top of the league last season.
24. Carolina Panthers
Pick: Jaire Alexander, CB (Louisville)
The Panthers need an upgrade to the secondary. Alexander is a physical corner. He’s strong in press-man situations and was rarely tested in college due to a strong fundamental base that will easily have him waltz into the top corner role.
25. Tennessee Titans
Pick: Isaiah Wynn, OG (Georgia)
Josh Kline and Quinton Spann are both free agents. Despite playing tackle in college, Wynn will more than likely have to move inside in the NFL. He has a massive frame (6’2”, 302lbs), but keeps a strong base under him and anchors well. The addition may help void a possible loss.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Pick: Harrison Phillips, DT (Stanford)
The Falcons could lose Dontari Poe to free agency. Phillips was a bit up and down during the Senior Bowl, showing that he will need some development at the next level. However, placing him next to Grady Jarrett could not only help ease the transition, but could help the development.
27. New Orleans Saints
Pick: Cameron Sutton, WR (SMU)
It’s highly unlikely that the Saints will allow Drew Brees to leave, despite getting up there in age. He has Michael Thomas as a receiving threat, but Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman are set to become free agents. If Coleman doesn’t resign, Sutton’s frame and soft hands could give Brees a better option as a red-zone threat. He is also a willing and capable blocker out on the edge.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Derrius Guice, RB (LSU)
The Steelers could afford to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback with Father Time starting his clock on Big Ben. However, Le’Veon Bell has reportedly threatened to sit out the season if he receives a second-consecutive franchise tag. Derrius Guice is the best pure running back in the class and despite poor quarterback play in college, has shown that he can be a reliable weapon out of the backfield.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Lamar Jackson, QB (Louisville)
I would be shocked if Jackson makes it this far. Yes, Blake Bortles did have a stretch of quality game manager performances that helped guide the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game without his best receiver on the field. However, the talent that charisma that Jackson possesses would be not just a perfect fit in the offense, but the locker room as well.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Kolton Miller, OT (UCLA)
The Vikings could possibly look for another cornerback to add to the duo that is forming with Xavier Rhodes and the continually improving Trae Waynes. Opting to shore up the offensive line, selecting Miller would be grabbing the best player available and could help shore up multiple positions. With Miller at tackle, Mike Remmers could be kicked inside to guard to alleviate the loss of Joe Berger.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Rashaan Evans, LB (Alabama)
The Eagles front seven has been fairly dominant this season, but a lot of that is due to the defensive line. The linebacking corps could use an upgrade. Evans boasts sideline-to-sideline range and is patient at the point of attack.
32. New England Patriots
Pick: Hercules Mata’afa, EDGE (Washington State)
This is the perfect player for Bill Belichick. Mata’afa excelled as a Cougar despite being played out of position. Transitioning to the edge will come with its fair share of bumps, but if he is able to be properly developed, the Patriots could have a solid pass rusher at the next level.
- Josh Zimmer is the Lead NFL Draft analyst for NGSC Sports as well as serving as a contributor for NHL coverage.
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