If you thought football season was over, think again! The NFL does a great job at remaining relevant throughout the off-season between trades, free agency, the scouting combine and of course, the NFL draft.
It’s very difficult to predict where the top prospects will land given how much false information is put out through the media and teams holding their cards close to the vest. The 2018 draft is full of potential star quarterbacks and that will certainly be a focal point for a handful of teams during the first round.
We could easily see five quarterbacks get drafted in the first round and most of them will likely be top ten selections. I can see a lot of trades going down before the draft even begins and as the process plays out some organizations will make deals to move up and get their guy. The longer teams wait to make a trade to get the player they covet, the higher the price will be to obtain that pick.
The Cleveland Browns have the first overall selection for what seems like the 15th season in a row. They actually have five picks within the first two rounds of the draft. Cleveland has a lot of options and will receive numerous calls from inquiring general managers. In addition to the Browns having the first pick in the 2018 draft, they have the 4th overall draft pick as well. That’s a great spot to be in where they can make a deal with another team and add a few more picks. On the other hand, they can use those picks to trade for a player or two to fill the variety of gaps on the Browns roster. The possibilities are endless for Cleveland but it’s also important to remember how many holes they need to fill so keeping those five draft picks may not be the worst idea. You can find talent in any round of the NFL draft.
Let’s take a look at all 32 teams and which positions they need to address instantly. I’ll give you each teams top three positions of need and add a couple of names of players that may get their name called on April 26. My official mock draft will be out just before Roger Goodell goes to the podium and gets booed by the fans in Texas. The 2018 draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington where the Dallas Cowboys play their home games. Goodell is not a fan favorite in Jerry World right now as many blame him for Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension this past season and how it ruined the Boys chances of repeating as NFC East division champs. So don’t expect a round of applause as he makes his way toward the microphone.
Below is the 2018 NFL draft order. My opinion on all 32 teams biggest needs and an in depth look at the top 10 overall selections. Your opinions and predictions are always welcome.
- Browns: (Team Needs – QB, DB, WR) Since Cleveland holds multiple picks in the first two rounds, we could see a trade go down early. Maybe not the first selection but possibly with their fourth pick. I believe that the Browns need to draft a quarterback unless they make a deal to acquire Kirk Cousins. With all their draft picks it may not be the worst idea. But unfortunately for Cleveland, it’s a different year with the same old story. Maybe this the time they’ll finally choose the right guy to take snaps under center. I’m pretty sure the Browns will select a QB with their first pick and don’t be shocked if it’s UCLA former signal caller, Josh Rosen.
- Giants: (Team Needs – QB, RB, DE) I keep hearing Saquan Barkley is a possibility at No.2 for the G-Men. While I think Barkley would help the team right away, it’s more important to look at the big picture and start to get Eli Manning’s replacement ready. The writing is on the wall. Whichever QB the Giants consider the best available will be the player they choose. It will likely be either Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Sam Darnold. That decision will depend on what Cleveland does with the first pick.
- Colts: (Team Needs – DL, LB, OL) The Colts have such a high draft pick because they’re team is Swiss cheese. They have holes to plug at almost every position. If Andrew Luck can come back healthy and ready to play ball then the team will likely rally around him and play with more confidence. Luck can certainly use a couple of top notch offensive lineman to protect his injured body, but Bradley Chubb, DE out of N.C. State seems like a can’t miss. Indy still hasn’t been able to replace pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Not easy since we’re talking about two potential Hall of Fame players. But Chubb may be the guy Colts fans have been waiting for to get the sack attack back for the blue and white.
- Browns: (Team Needs – DB, LB, WR) Cleveland has to deal with defending players like Antonio Brown and A.J. Green. Since Joe Haden departed to inter-division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns have felt a major void in the secondary. A solid cornerback can help by taking one side of the field away and give the defensive lineman more time to sack the quarterback. Again, the Browns need a lot of help. So if they don’t trade for Kirk Cousins and take a QB with the first overall selection, assuming they keep the 4th pick, I see Minkah Fitzpatrick getting drafted in this spot. He was one of the best defensive players during Alabama’s championship run in 2017. He’d be a great fit in Cleveland.
- Broncos: (Team Needs – QB, RB, DL) I don’t think John Elway is very happy with his quarterback carousel. The question is, does the Hall of Fame QB want to take another ride around the Merry-Go-Round? If the quarterback he wants is still on the board when the fifth pick comes his way, I think Denver will pull the trigger. It could be Rosen, Allen or even Baker Mayfield. This one is a tough call because of the lack of success under center since Peyton Manning retired. If the QB they want is there then they’ll take him. If not then it’s possible they’ll grab one of the best overall players in this years draft. Saquon Barkley could be the Broncos next 1,000 yard rusher.
- Jets: (Team Needs – QB, OL, LB) It’s very possible the Jets will move up to make sure they get the quarterback they desire. If for some reason they can’t or decide to go in another direction, it’s highly probable the Jets will take the best play-maker available or begin to try and solidify their offensive line that was so dominant a decade ago. The Jets had their greatest success with a wall for an O-Line and a solid ground game. Perhaps they draft the best lineman like Orlando Brown or Quenton Nelson. Then again, if Barkley is still on the board then I’m sure the NYJ would give him high consideration.
- Bucs: (Team Needs – DB, OL, RB) A lot of “experts” thought the Bucs were a team on the rise and even a playoff contender. Not so much. Jameis Winston is still struggling and the lack of offensive fire power is alarming. They also need a lot of help in the secondary. In the NFC South division, you need to have good players in the secondary as Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan are all top level QB’s that love to throw the ball. So Tampa Bay will take the top defensive back, whether it’s Fitzpatrick or Denzel Ward out of Ohio State.
- Bears: (Team Needs – OL, WR, DL) Chicago has a long way to go. They think they have their franchise quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky so they’ll focus their attention on helping their sophomore signal caller by getting some offensive help. We could see the first wide receiver in the draft taken with the 8th pick. It’s debatable who the best WR in the draft is, therefore whoever the Bears covet the most will be the selection. The top three wide outs in this class are probably Christian Kirk, Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton. I’d bet the Bears take one of these guys unless they decide beefing up the offensive line is more important.
- 49ers: (Team Needs – DB, LB, WR) The 49ers have a shiny new toy at quarterback and Jimmy G is showing the 49ers that he’s not a product of the Patriots system. He’s a darn good player who learned a lot with the Patriots. He brought that skill and knowledge to San Francisco and put points on the board the Niners haven’t seen in years. It be nice to get Garoppolo a stud WR to help out this new and improved offense. However, San Francisco has some defensive needs they need to address. Specifically the secondary. The 49ers draft selection will depend on who’s left on the board when the 9th pick comes around. The Niners will either take a top receiver or the best cornerback in the draft.
- Raiders: (Team Needs – DB, OL, DL) The Raiders were a major disappointment in 2017. Many had them pegged for the AFC West division crown. Instead they finished toward the bottom of the division and the AFC Conference in general. They definitely need to get some protection for their franchise quarterback, Derek Carr. However, Oakland’s defense was exploited last season and fired former head coach Jack Del Rio as a result of it. Now John Gruden makes his way back to the sidelines and out of the booth to lead the team he got his first head coaching gig with back in the 1990’s. Yes, ancient history to you millenials out there! Since Gruden is an offensive minded guy, it wouldn’t shock me if he picked an offensive lineman or even a stud running back. But if I were running the organization, I’d concentrate on defense first. Gruden has a great offensive mind so he can scheme well enough for his offense to get the ball in the end zone. More importantly, he needs to have a defense to prevent their opponents from lighting up the scoreboard.
- Dolphins: (Team Needs – OL, LB, CB)
- Bengals: (Team Needs – OL, WR, CB)
- Redskins: (Team Needs – CB, LB, WR)
- Packers: (Team Needs – OL, Defense)
- Cardinals: (Team Needs – OL, DL, TE)
- Ravens: (Team Needs – DL, WR, DB)
- Chargers: (Team Needs – LB, DB, OL)
- Seahawks: (Team Needs – WR, RB, OL)
- Cowboys: (Team Needs – LB, DB, DL)
- Lions: (Team Needs – OL, DB, DL)
- Bills: (Team Needs – WR, DL, RB)
- Bills: (Team Needs – WR, DL, DB)
- Rams: (Team Needs – OL, DB, TE)
- Panthers: (Team Needs – WR, OL, DB)
- Titans: (Team Needs – LB, WR, DL)
- Falcons: (Team Needs – DL, OL, K)
- Saints: (Team Needs – DL, LB, WR)
- Steelers: (Team Needs – OL, LB, DB)
- Jaguars: (Team Needs – WR, OL, QB)
- Vikings: (Team Needs – DL, OL, DB)
- Patriots: (Team Needs – OL, LB, WR)
- Eagles: (Team Needs – OL, DB, DL)
This is most definitely a quarterback-filled draft. A QB I haven’t mentioned is former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Some are saying he should convert to wide receiver. Whispers of racism surround that debate because Jackson is an African-American. I don’t believe race has anything to do with Jackson’s play. He’s not a prototypical quarterback but he got the job done at the college level. The question is how he’ll project into the pros. I think he is certainly good enough to be given a chance to play quarterback in the NFL. If not then he can still be a significant weapon on the field.
The phones will be ringing off the hook before and during the first round of the draft. There’s about four or five teams that need a quarterback and there’s about four or five of them in the draft who can become potential franchise players. Teams like the Bills, Bengals, Cardinals and even the Jaguars may look to trade up to get the quarterback they desire. Buffalo has back to back picks with the 21st and 22nd overall draft selections so they’re in a good spot to make a trade with perhaps the Browns who have multiple picks as well.
Every year we’re surprised by certain moves like when the Chiefs traded up in last years draft to pick Patrick Mahomes when Alex Smith was playing the best football of his career. Well, now he’s in Washington, so Kansas City clearly had a plan and stuck to it. It doesn’t seem like there’s a clear cut #1 quarterback in this class. Most say Sam Darnold from USC has the most potential. Others like the height and arm strength of Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. And some just love the way Baker Mayfield plays the game and gets his teammates hyped up for each contest. He has a lot of great intangibles but the biggest knock on him is that he’s only about 6 feet tall. Well tell that to guys like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. Size does matter but it’s what you do with what you’ve got. And Mayfield is clearly a gamer.
I predict this will be one of the most exciting drafts of all time. Especially because of the quarterbacks and not just the ones who will get their name called on April 26th. Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins are among some other quarterbacks who may have a new home when the 2018 season begins. If a team or two gets a QB via trade before draft day, then we’re bound to see a lot of movement near the top of the draft. Which teams will give up enough draft picks to move to the top of the order to get their guy?! Remains to be seen, so speculation is the best we have right now! Full mock draft to come!