After months of preparation, speculation, and daily mock drafts on “fanspeak”, it’s finally time for the real thing. The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off tomorrow night in Dallas, Texas. NFL fans from around the country will gather at AT&T Stadium to see who their respective teams will add to the roster. Will your team pick the next Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers to run your offense? Will that defensive player you selected be the centerpiece of your defense for years to come? Are you just one blue-chip player away from making a Super Bowl run? The NFL Draft can answer all those questions. So let’s kick it off! My third and FINAL Mock Draft of what I believe will happen on Thursday night is slated below. Check it out!
1. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: QB Sam Darnold (USC)
Previous Pick: QB Sam Darnold (USC)
Despite all of the smokescreens and rumors we’ve heard over the past two weeks, I still truly believe Sam Darnold will be the #1 pick. He’s the safest option and the best fit for the Browns at this moment in time.
2. New York Giants
The Pick: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
Previous Pick: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
The Giants seem to be content with Eli Manning leading the offense for another 2-3 years. Were the Giants bad last season? Yes. But you’d be foolish to ignore the injuries New York sustained last year to go along with the cancerous Head Coach (Ben McAdoo) they had in the locker room. The talent is still very much there and Dave Gettleman will likely surround Eli Manning with as much talent as he can to make one last Super Bowl run before Eli decides to call it quits. Adding the best player in the draft is a good start.
3. New York Jets
The Pick: QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Previous Pick: QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Baker Mayfield is the hot name leading up to the draft. In New York, he’d have the opportunity to sit for a year and learn a pro-style system behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater after running a spread offense in college. Mayfield is a good fit in the Jets’ system and after all…who doesn’t want to see “Broadway Baker” signs posted all over New York City?
4. Cleveland Browns (via. Houston Texans)
The Pick: DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
Previous Pick: DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
The Browns would be wise to select the best defensive player in the draft at #4 and Bradley Chubb is exactly that. The Myles Garrett-Bradley Chubb duo will give opposing offenses nightmares for years to come.
5. TRADE: Buffalo Bills (Via. Denver Broncos)
The Pick: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
No team’s name is hotter on the trading block right now than the Buffalo Bills. After trading away Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and adding a quarterback in free agency (AJ McCarron) who has virtually no starting experience, the Bills are desperate for a long-term starter at quarterback. Josh Rosen is the best quarterback left on the board and he can come in and compete for the starting job with McCarron on the first day of camp. This is a good trade for both sides. The Bills get their guy and the Colts acquire more picks…which they need desperately.
6. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
Previous Pick: DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
Roquan Smith has become a hot commodity amongst teams in the top 10. Despite fielding phone calls, I believe the Colts will end up staying put at #6 and taking a player that they can build their defense around for years to come. Smith is a leader and to be honest, there’s really nothing he can’t do on tape.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
Previous Pick: S Derwin James (Florida State)
For the very first time, I’ve finally slated someone else to the Bucs other than Derwin James. Quenton Nelson is just far too talented to pass up at this point. In my opinion, Nelson is the safest pick in the draft and a sure-fire Pro Bowler for years to come. The game is won in the trenches and the Buccaneers haven’t been able to say they could do that for years. It’s time for a change.
8. Chicago Bears
The Pick: S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Previous Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Quenton Nelson didn’t make it to #8, so the Bears have to make a decision between Edmunds and Fitzpatrick. Minkah Fitzpatrick would give the Bears, potentially one of the best safety duos in the league, alongside Adrian Amos. His versatility is something that Vic Fangio covets and having the ability to play three positions at a high level is something too good to pass up.
9. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Previous Pick: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
One of the top linebackers is already off the board and it sounds like there’s a chance Reuben Foster may not be a niner come opening day if his recent off the field allegations are proven to be true. John Lynch needs a backup plan, so why not select the next best linebacker available. The potential is through the roof.
10. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
Previous Pick: S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
It sounds like there’s a chance the Raiders could go offensive line and add a Tackle at #10. But that seems to be a reach, in my opinion. The Raiders absolutely have to go defense, so let’s give them another Ohio State corner. Denzel Ward can play inside and out and can step on the field as your starter on the very first day of camp.
11. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
Previous Pick: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
The Dolphins have been rumored to be in the market for a quarterback but simply don’t have the draft capital to move up and grab one in the top 10. Instead, Josh Allen falls to them at #11. Allen would enter a good situation in Miami. QB-guru and Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase would have the opportunity to develop Allen and he doesn’t need to be rushed into a starting situation with Ryan Tannehill returning from a torn ACL injury.
12. TRADE: Denver Broncos (Via. Buffalo Bills)
The Pick: NT Vita Vea (Washington)
Domata Peko is going to be 34 this fall and the Broncos are already set at safety. Nose Tackle is a larger need at this point in time and Vita Vea is the best one in this class. He’s an animal in the run game and he’s a perfect fit in Denver’s 3-4 defense.
13. Washington Redskins
The Pick: S Derwin James (Florida State)
Previous Pick: DT Vita Vea (Washington)
Derwin James shouldn’t fall this far on the board, but because of his positional value, there’s a chance he does. The Redskins lost Su’a Cravens to Denver so this pick makes a ton of sense from a need stand-point as well as a value stand-point. James is a leader and the energy he plays with is something guys in the locker room can feed off of. This is a terrific pick and steal for the Redskins at #13.
14. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: EDGE Harold Landry (Boston College)
Previous Pick: EDGE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
Harold Landry is blazing his way to the top of big boards big time over the course of the past few weeks. It’s no secret the Packers need help on defense desperately and Clay Matthews isn’t the player he used to be. The Green Bay pass rush lacked badly last season and it’s time to start thinking long-term and going with younger options.
15. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Previous Pick: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
The Cardinals are in a terrible spot and it sounds like they’re desperate to move up and get a QB. If they can’t, the electric dual-threat out of Louisville is still sitting on the board at #15. Sam Bradford is no guarantee to make it through a whole season and whether you like it or not you have to start thinking about the future. Arizona is bound to take a quarterback at some point.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: T Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
Previous Pick: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
The first Tackle comes off the board at #16. McGlinchey can come in as the day one starter at Right Tackle and if Ronnie Stanley continues to play with inconsistency, McGlinchey can slide over to the left side and solidify that spot as well. This is a safe pick and it’s in Baltimore’s best interest.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
Previous Pick: T Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
The Chargers are a team that doesn’t have many holes, but one glaring weakness they do have in their defense is at linebacker. Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans have battled back and forth for the third best linebacker spot and from what I’ve read it sounds like multiple teams are high on Vander Esch if his neck injury clears with team doctors.
18. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)
Previous Pick: G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
If Josh Jackson makes it past #18, there’s a chance he could slip a bit due to scheme fit. Seattle is the perfect scheme for him and they run the same defensive system Jackson played in at Iowa. Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, and DeShawn Shead are all gone so it’s obvious that Seattle needs secondary help. The second best corner on my big board is a good fix for that.
19. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
Previous Pick: LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
The Cowboys recently parted ways with Dez Bryant which leads me to make this revision at #19. Wide Receiver isn’t necessarily a glaring need after the Allen Hurns signing, but it’s still a position that’s in need of an upgrade. The top receiver in the draft falls to Jerry Jones. Calvin Ridley has the best hands in this class and he’s arguably the best route runner as well. This pick will give the Cowboys some long-term stability at the position.
20. Detroit Lions
The Pick: DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
Previous Pick: RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
This is a Matt Patricia pick. To be perfectly honest, the Lions would be completely stupid to go anything other than defense with their first pick. Matthew Stafford gives you a chance to stay in every game offensively so it’s time to address defensive needs. An interior pass rusher is something the Lions have missed since Ndamukong Suh left. Bryan is a project but he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber player if Matt Patricia can unlock his potential.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
Previous Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
I really wanted to go Center at this spot, but this is a deep class and I think the Bengals can find their starter in the second or third round. The next biggest need for Cincinnati is at linebacker and with Vontaze Burfict already suspended this pick makes a lot of sense.
22. TRADE: Denver Broncos (Via. Buffalo Bills)
The Pick: RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
In this mock, the Broncos acquired Buffalo’s second first round pick so that the Bills could move up and draft their quarterback. Denver recently released CJ Anderson to save some money and go with a younger/cheaper option, so let’s give them the best back left on the board. Derrius Guice would take a load of pressure off of Case Keenum’s shoulders and he would add an element to the Denver offense that’s been missing since Terrell Davis retired.
23. New England Patriots (Via. LA Rams)
The Pick: T Kolton Miller (UCLA)
Previous Pick: T Connor Williams (Texas)
I like Connor Williams more than I like Kolton Miller, but Miller is the name that’s been tied to New England for the past few weeks…and rightfully so. Some of the comparisons that Miller is drawing projections to is former Patriots Tackle Nate Solder. Tom Brady is currently without a solidified blindside protector and giving him some reassurance with New England’s first pick would seem like a nice thing to do.
24. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: WR DJ Moore (Maryland)
Previous Pick: RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
The Panthers got a new offensive coordinator this offseason (Norv Turner) and this is a toy that he will like to move around a lot. DJ Moore is the top wideout on a lot of scouts’ boards and deservedly so…he’s a nightmare to tackle after he has the ball in his hands and he’s just beginning to peak as a player. His college production is nothing incredible because he hasn’t played with the best of quarterbacks, but I expect that to change in the NFL when he has a guy like Cam Newton throwing darts to him. The Panthers can utilize his skills in a variety of different ways.
25. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: EDGE Josh Sweat (Florida State)
Previous Pick: EDGE Harold Landry (Boston College)
SURPRISE! Josh Sweat is a late riser and seeing his name associated with the Titans is nothing new. Sweat does have some medical concerns but if that checks out ok it wouldn’t surprise me if this is the pick on Thursday night. Tennessee’s top need is a pass rusher right now and after Chubb/Landry are off the board it’s a wide-open ballgame for the next best guy. Much like the quarterback position, pass rushers will get drafted higher than they should because of the high demand for them.
26. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: OL Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
Previous Pick: DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
The Falcons keep the former Bulldog in the great state of Georgia. Andy Levitre isn’t getting any younger and I can promise Falcons fans that Brandon Fusco is not the answer at Right Guard. Isaiah Wynn is a versatile offensive lineman that can play inside and out at a high level.
27. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
Previous Pick: WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
People think that because Marcus Davenport played at a lower-level Division I school that his game may not translate well to the pros. I can assure you that is not the case. The Saints have some unanswered questions with Alex Okafor and well…you can never have enough good pass rushers. Depth is key. Davenport has drawn a lot of comparisons to Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap. I think he turned out ok.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)
Previous Pick: S Justin Reid (Stanford)
The Steelers are in a good spot because they don’t have a lot of needs and cornerback isn’t an immediate need like Linebacker is but all of the top Linebackers are already off the board. So best player available is the smart thing to do. Jaire Alexander gives you flexibility in your secondary and he offers returner value as well. A solid pick for any team going BPA.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: G Will Hernandez (UTEP)
Previous Pick: CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)
Imagine a scenario where Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, and Will Hernandez are blocking for you in the running game. I try not to think about that as an opposing fan but if I’m Leonard Fournette I’m thinking about all the rushing records I’m going to break in 2018.
30. TRADE: Cleveland Browns (Via. Minnesota Vikings)
The Pick: T Connor Williams (Texas)
The Patriots could be in the market for a Nate Solder replacement at #31 if they don’t select one at #23. Philadelphia could also be getting ready to groom a Jason Peters replacement who is 36 years old and likely entering the final year of his career. The Browns make a trade with the Vikings at #30 and move up 3 spots to get their Joe Thomas replacement, while Rick Spielman moves back to #33 and regains his fourth-round pick that he lost to Philadelphia from the Sam Bradford trade.
31. New England Patriots
The Pick: CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)
Previous Pick: CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)
I just like this fit too much not to go with it again. Bill Belichick is going to grab the player that teams are too scared of because of small off the field issues and turn him into a Pro Bowler……because it’s the Patriots. This is a solid Malcolm Butler replacement and he also offers excellent kick return value.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: TE Mike Gesicki (Penn State)
Previous Pick: RB Sony Michel (Georgia)
The nice thing about being a Super Bowl champ is that you rarely ever have any needs heading into the following season. The Eagles can go the best player available at #32 or add a solid depth option to a position of choice. Trey Burton and Brent Celek are now gone so Zach Ertz is in need of a backup. Let’s keep Mike Gesicki in Pennsylvania.
Thank you to all that have followed along on the podcast and read my mock drafts. Tomorrow we get the real thing. Enjoy the draft!
*Follow me on Twitter at @Purple_Post.