The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month away. The majority of the significant free agency signings are complete so teams are now free to sit back and focus on how to improve their respective teams through the draft. Check out my post-free agency mock below!
1. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: QB Sam Darnold (USC)
Previous Pick: QB Sam Darnold (USC)
Is it a coincidence that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was photographed with Darnold’s parents at his Pro Day? I think not. Most experts around the league believe this to be the pick and it makes sense, regardless if Cleveland recently added another QB to the team or not. The Browns can finally draft a QB and keep him on the sidelines to learn for a few years instead of tossing him into the fire to tarnish his confidence.
2. New York Giants
The Pick: G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
Previous Pick: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
The Giants have a lot of positions they could address with the #2 overall pick and defensive end has recently become another need now that Jason Pierre-Paul has been traded away. Bradley Chubb makes a ton of sense at #2 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen in the least, but Quenton Nelson is a generational player that can come in and be the centerpiece of your offensive line for the next 10 seasons. Nelson is also considered by some to be the best player in the draft as well. Don’t mess this up, New York.
3. New York Jets (Via: Indianapolis Colts)
The Pick: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
It’s a no-brainer that the Jets made the trade with the Colts to move up and get their quarterback before Cleveland or Denver select him at #4 or#5. Almost all of the big name QBs have been tied to the Jets at #3 and it’s really hard to pick one. So I just went with the best one available. Rosen will get the chance to sit behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for a season and learn the NFL ropes before he’s asked to lead the New York offense on the field.
4. Cleveland Browns (Via: Houston Texans)
The Pick: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
Previous Pick: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
The Browns get the best player in the draft at #4. This is a spot a lot of teams may try and trade up to in order to get the QB they want but with a guy like Barkley still, on the board, it’ll be hard for Cleveland to pass up. There’s not a thing that Barkley can’t do. In my opinion, he’s the best back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson back in 2007. Carlos Hyde will probably be wishing he had stayed in San Francisco…
5. Denver Broncos
The Pick: QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Previous Pick: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
John Elway loves to make big-name splashes and Baker Mayfield is the perfect player to continue that trend. Mayfield is a born winner and getting back to winning is exactly what John Elway wants to do. Mayfield will likely sit behind veteran free agent signing Case Keenum and learn for a season before looking to take the job from the vet in 2019. This a great pick and a perfect fit for Denver/Mayfield at #5.
6. TRADE: Buffalo Bills (Via: Indianapolis Colts)
The Pick: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
Yes, the Indianapolis Colts are trading back again. Oh, and yes…the Buffalo Bills are trading UP, again. It’s no secret the Buffalo Bills are in the market for a franchise quarterback. They signed AJ McCarron in free agency, but there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding him as the starter for the future. Josh Allen has the highest ceiling of any QB in this draft and if the right team can unlock his potential he will be a franchise QB for the next 10+ years.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: S Derwin James (Florida State)
Previous Pick: S Derwin James (Florida State)
The Bucs could go with Minkah Fitzpatrick here, but it sounds like Derwin James is still the hot commodity name in the state of Florida. The Tampa Bay secondary is in desperate need of a voice and leader and James has all of the quality traits that you can ask for in a top 10 pick. He’s a leader (both by example and vocal), his football IQ is through the roof, and he’s a terrific teammate. This pick doesn’t change from Mock Draft 1.0. I love the Bucs keeping Derwin James in the state of Florida.
8. Chicago Bears
The Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Previous Pick: G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
With the release of Jerrell Freeman, there’s a glaring hole in the Bears defense next to Danny Trevathan and Tremaine Edmunds is representing a new breed of NFL linebackers. He’s long, athletic, fast, and instinctive. This is the perfect pick to add to an already top 10 Chicago Bears defense.
9. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Previous Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
49ers General Manager John Lynch makes another big name splash with an Alabama player that falls. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a dynamic versatile threat that can play every spot in the secondary. Though, his best fit is probably at free safety where he can roam the field and make plays. John Lynch has already had a terrific offseason with the re-signing of Jimmy Garoppolo and additions of Richard Sherman and Weston Richburg. He can follow through on this home-run of an offseason with the selection of Fitzpatrick at #9.
10. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
Previous Pick: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
Roquan Smith is the hot name here amongst draft experts around the league as well as amongst fans, but don’t read too much into it. The Raiders are in talks with MLB NaVorro Bowman to bring him back for another year in 2018 and cornerback might actually be a larger position of need with Sean Smith and TJ Carrie now gone. Why not add another Ohio State corner, who also just so happens to be the best corner in this draft (in my opinion)?
11. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
Previous Pick: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
I won’t rule Lamar Jackson out of the picture at #13, but the Miami defense was so poor last season and now they’ve lost All-Pro DT Ndamukong Suh to the Rams. They need help badly and the best guy to replace Suh is Da’Ron Payne. Payne is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s a leader and the effort he gives play in and play out is tremendous and something NFL coaches covet greatly. Is he an upgrade from Ndamukong Suh? No. But he is the best option remaining over any of the current free agents and the Dolphins currently have no one to fill that hole that Suh left behind.
12. Indianapolis Colts (Via: Buffalo Bills)
The Pick: DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
If Bradley Chubb actually falls to the Colts at #12 it will be an absolute miracle. Many mocks originally had him at #3 to the Colts before they traded the pick away to the Jets, and mocks after that had the Colts still getting their guy at #6. No way he makes it to them again if they trade back a 3rd time, right? Doubtful. But here’s why I think it could happen.
#7 The Buccaneers recently traded for Jason Pierre-Paul and added Vinny Curry in free agency. They’re set at DE.
#8 The Bears have pass rushers and I don’t think a 3-4 scheme is necessarily the best fit for Chubb.
#9 The 49ers added Solomon Thomas in last years draft and on the other side they have another former 1st round pick in Arik Armstead. Let’s continue.
#10 The Raiders have all-pro DE Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. coming off the edge with plenty of other needs on their defense. Pass.
#11 The Miami Dolphins have Cameron Wake on one side and recently traded for Robert Quinn from the Rams to come off the edge on the opposite side of him.
Would you look at that? Here we are. Bradley Chubb dropped to #12.
13. Washington Redskins
The Pick: NT Vita Vea (Washington)
Previous Pick: NT Vita Vea (Washington)
This is one of those picks that seems like it’s destined to be. The Redskins defense ranked as one of the worst run defending units in the league in 2017 and are in need of an upgrade at nose tackle, greatly. Vita Vea is arguably the best run defender in the draft and he’s a handful for offensive lines. This can solve an issue, quickly if you select Vea.
14. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
Previous Pick: CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)
Yes, Roquan Smith dropped outside the top 10. The Packers have more pressing issues on their defense than linebacker right now. They’re in desperate need of a good quality cornerback and they could also use an EDGE rusher to replace an aging Clay Matthews, but if Roquan Smith falls to #14 he is simply too good of a player to pass up and he’ll be making you kick yourself in the butt, years down the road if you decide to pass on him. This is a best available player pick and Smith is without question that guy.
15. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Previous Pick: T Connor Williams (Texas)
Sam “legs made of glass” Bradford probably wasn’t the best QB to bring in with an offensive line that struggled in 2017 and really hasn’t done much so far to improve it in 2018. So if Bradford is unable to stay healthy yet again, having a QB that can elude pressure and escape the pocket unharmed probably isn’t a bad idea. Other than Saquon Barkley, Lamar Jackson might be the most electric player in this draft class. He’s the perfect dual-threat quarterback and he’s without a doubt the closest thing we’ve ever seen to Michael Vick.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
Previous Pick: T Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
Another pick that really makes too much sense. The first wide receiver off the board is Calvin Ridley. Even after the additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown, this is still without a doubt Baltimore’s biggest need. Ridley has everything you look for in a wideout and he should be an excellent security blanket for Joe Flacco for years to come.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: T Connor Williams (Texas)
Previous Pick: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
Just after the first wide receiver comes off the board, the first offensive tackle comes off the board. This is a perfect fit and pick for the Chargers and here’s why. Williams can play both left AND right tackle at a high level and he’s a sure-thing upgrade over Joe Barksdale (LACs current right tackle). Russell Okung had a great 2017 season, but if he somehow has a hard time staying healthy in 2018 and reverts to his old form, Williams can slide over to left tackle and the Chargers still have a serviceable option to protect Philip Rivers blindside.
Okung-Lamp-Pouncey-Feeney-Williams is an absolutely TERRIFIC offensive line. Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon should be very pleased.
18. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
Previous Pick: T Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
What Russell Wilson was able to accomplish last season with his front five was incredible. Isaiah Wynn is a very valuable prospect because of his versatility to play inside and out. He played left tackle at Georgia, but because of his height (6’2″), he’s projected to move inside to Guard at the next level. This is a home run pick for Seattle at 18. It’s worth noting that they may also go DL or corner.
19. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)
Previous Pick: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
Orlando Scandrick is gone and the Cowboys have a large hole in their secondary. Josh Jackson may not be the best corner in this draft to some people but his ceiling is without a doubt the highest. A long, athletic corner that can do it all. Experience, reps, and the correct coaching could help him to eventually reach a pro bowl level of play. Jackson finishes his career at Iowa with 8 interceptions and 26 pass break-ups. He’s also allowed a completion percentage of just 41% to the receivers he’s covered.
20. Detroit Lions
The Pick: C James Daniels (Iowa)
Previous Pick: DT Maurice Hurst (Michigan)
The Lions recently signed veteran center Wesley Johnson to the squad from the Jets, but Johnson is far from even average. The Lions need a commander on their offensive front and James Daniels is arguably the best center in this class. Daniels is known for being a technician and his incredible work ethic. A Decker-Glasgow-Daniels-Lang-Wagner offensive line is about as good as it gets (if all are healthy).
21. Cincinnati Bengals (Via: Buffalo Bills)
The Pick: T Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
Previous Pick: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
The Bengals traded for Bills Left Tackle Cordy Glenn a few weeks ago. A terrific move might I add. But the right side of the offensive line still needs work. Bobby Hart probably isn’t a starter in this league and Mike McGlinchey is the next best offensive lineman on the board. McGlinchey is projected to play at Right Tackle in the pros and the Bengals are definitely in need of one. A perfect fit.
22. Indianapolis Colts (Via Buffalo Bills)
The Pick: RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
The Colts acquired a SECOND first-round pick in this mock draft after a trade with the Buffalo Bills to move up and get a quarterback. The Colts let Frank Gore walk and are left with Marlon Mack in the backfield. Mack is a good back but probably not one who should be carrying a large work-load. Derrius Guice is the best running back in this draft NOT named Saquon Barkley. He’s a terrific, powerful runner and has the potential to be a receiving threat out of the backfield but wasn’t given much of an opportunity to do that at LSU. This is a good weapon to add to the Indianapolis offense.
23. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
Previous Pick: CB Isaiah Oliver (Colorado)
Something in my gut tells me the Rams won’t be selecting at #23 come draft day, but if they do there is still one area of their defense that needs to be addressed. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Ndamukong Suh combine to make one of the most lethal defensive lines in all of football and both cornerback spots were also addressed via trades. The Rams are still looking for an EDGE rusher to replace Robert Quinn and it wouldn’t hurt to add a middle linebacker alongside Mark Barron as well. Rashaan Evans will play a 4-3 WLB or a 3-4 MLB position at the next level. He’s extremely athletic and brings a great level of versatility to a defense. He’ll be highly valued by Wade Phillips.
24. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: G Will Hernandez (UTEP)
Previous Pick: WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)
The Panthers are one of the toughest teams in this draft to mock a player too because of the numerous amount of needs they have. They need playmakers on offense, they need defensive line help, cornerback help, and maybe even some safety help. Add in Ryan Kalil and Thomas Davis who are both retiring after the 2018 season as well and you’re looking at about 5-6 positions the Panthers could address. But in my opinion, the biggest need of all right now for the Panthers is offensive line help. They lost Andrew Norwell in free agency to the Jaguars and that leaves a large hole in between the Kalil brothers on the offensive line. Will Hernandez is arguably the meanest, biggest dude in this draft and the Panthers are missing some of that nastiness along their front that Hernandez can provide. This is a great pick for them.
25. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: EDGE Harold Landry (Boston College)
Previous Pick: EDGE Harold Landry (Boston College)
New Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel gets a new toy to play with for his defense. Brian Orakpo is aging and after Orakpo, the Titans really don’t have much for pass rushing help. Harold Landry can rush the passer standing up or with his hand in the dirt and I’d expect Vrabel to move him around the defensive line to try and exploit weaknesses along the opposing offensive fronts. Landry suffered a season-ending injury that cut his last season at Boston College short, but when 100% healthy and a little coaching added in, he could be a lethal weapon at the next level.
26. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
Previous Pick: G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
The Atlanta Falcons have a history of adding Gators to their defense, starting with Keanu Neal and Brian Poole. Dontari Poe is gone and the Falcons are in need of a 3 technique defensive tackle to go alongside Grady Jarrett. Taven Bryan is raw but he brings an excellent amount of value to a defensive line from a pass-rushing standpoint. His motor never quits and he’s extremely athletic for a defensive lineman. I’d love to see what Dan Quinn could do with Taven Bryan in years to come.
27. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)
Previous Pick: TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)
I originally had Dallas Goedert, the Tight End from South Dakota State being selected here again in Mock Draft 2.0, but the Saints recently signed Benjamin Watson and ruined that for me, so I have to mix it up a bit. The Saints are in a great position because they have assembled talent in almost every facet of their roster which can allow them to select the highest player on their board at 27. That player could still be Dallas Goedert because after all, Benjamin Watson is in his late 30s and likely won’t play much longer after 2018, but I’m giving Drew Brees another weapon at #27. A 6’4″, 220-pound offensive weapon that gives the Saints the most lethal offense in all of football heading into 2018.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
Previous Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
This is a popular mock draft pick amongst fans and experts throughout the country…and for good reason. Ryan Shazier won’t play in 2018 since he’s still recovering from his spinal injury so the Steelers will have to look for a replacement. Leighton Vander Esch is a great story. He played 8-man football in high school and walked-on at Boise State weighing just 185 pounds. A few years later he’s expected to go in the 1st round of the NFL Draft and will likely have a large impact on someone’s defense in his first season.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: QB Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)
Previous Pick: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Wide Receiver has also been a popular pick here, but I really like the idea of six quarterbacks being drafted in the 1st round. Mason Rudolph has great size for a quarterback and his pocket presence will translate well to the pros. The Jaguars are bringing back Blake Bortles after a great playoff run and deservingly so, but if Bortles buckles in 2018 and can’t repeat his playoff success the Jaguars need to have a quarterback to fall back on waiting in the wings. Mason Rudolph can be that guy.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: G Billy Price (Ohio State)
Previous Pick: G Will Hernandez (UTEP)
The Vikings are another team that has assembled talent on every level of their roster which can allow them to truly go “best player available” on their big board at #30. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve pondered the idea that the Vikings may very well trade out of round one to acquire picks, but then I was reminded how much Rick Spielman loves that 5th-year option for 1st round picks and well…it makes too much sense. Billy Price suffered a torn pectoral muscle at the NFL Combine in February but he’s expected to be ready to go in time for the season opener. He’s a day one starter in the NFL and the chemistry he’s already assembled with current Vikings Center Pat Elflein (former Ohio State teammate) makes too much sense. The Vikings offensive line has lacked a nasty demeanor for a long time and the additions of Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, and Pat Elflein in 2017 turned the mentality in Minnesota around, quickly. Now throw in a guy like Price? Have fun, Dalvin Cook.
31. New England Patriots
The Pick: T Kolton Miller (UCLA)
Previous Pick: CB Donte Jackson (LSU)
The Patriots are actually in a really unfortunate situation right now. They couldn’t afford to keep Nate Solder around and that has now left them without a blindside protector for Tom Brady. Antonio Garcia is the guy that’s expected to fill that role, but the best thing the Patriots can do for themselves is to draft another Tackle early and let the draft pick and Garcia battle it out in camp. The best man gets the job. The other will be depth/insurance. Kolton Miller is the next best Tackle remaining on the board. Thus, the pick.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: RB Sony Michel (Georgia)
Previous Pick: CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)
Sony Michel is a guy that has jumped his way to the top of big boards throughout the country. Some people even have him as the 3rd best back in this class. LeGarrette Blount won another ring and left in free agency and the Eagles may be in the market for another running back to go along with Jay Ajayi. Michel and Ajayi would be a terrific two-headed monster in Philadelphia.
Thanks for reading!
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