2018 NFL Draft: First Round Mock

 

As the 2018 NFL Combine comes to a close, draft season in the NFL kicks to another gear. Soon enough, free agency will make it’s way on stage and will likely alter the draft strategy for most teams around the league. As draft season enters a new phase, let’s forecast how the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft may play out.

  1. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB , Penn State: If one thing was learned during the NFL Combine this year, it is that Barkley is not your normal running back. The former Penn State back delivered a 4.4 40-yard dash and an amazing 41 inch vertical jump. I know it is a running back, but the presence of Barkley can help turn things around very quickly for the Browns.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Projected trade w/ NYG) – Bradley Chubb, DE , N.C. State: This swap will cost the Bucs their 2nd rounder this year and their 1st rounder in 2019 but there is a coaching staff and management in place that needs immediate results in the win column. So pulling the trigger here means the Bucs grab the best pass rusher in the draft after placing 31st in the NFL in sacks last season.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG , Notre Dame: Yep. An offensive guard in the top three of the draft. The Colts watched in horror as Chubb was taken one spot ahead of them so they “settle” for arguably the best offensive lineman in the entire draft. Nelson is a polished product and can be a consistent All-Pro during throughout his career.
  4. Cleveland Browns – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB , Alabama: Notice that I listed Fitzpatrick as a defensive back thanks to his versatility to line up anywhere in the secondary. His addition alongside last year’s first rounder Jabrill Peppers gives the Browns an interchangeable safety duo. Keep an eye on Georgia’s Roquan Smith in this spot as well.
  5. Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen, QB , UCLA: The Broncos may be a contender in the Case Keenum/Kirk Cousins sweepstakes but both may ask for salaries that may make Elway a little uneasy. Instead, he rolls the dice with a rookie quarterback this is refined and has a very high ceiling.
  6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB , Oklahoma: The Jets may also be in the running for Cousins and his services but they may lose out to the Vikings or the Cardinals in the long run. Mayfield has a New York personality and a skill set that the Jets need. The Jets need a foundation to build around on offense and here is where it starts.
  7. New York Giants (Projected trade w/ TB) – Sam Darnold, QB , USC: The Giants were probably gunning for a signal caller at second overall and they still end up with a building block in the former USC quarterback. Darnold will have somewhat of an easy transition with the likes of Beckham, Shepard and Engram already as offensive weapons.
  8. Chicago Bears – Courtland Sutton, WR , SMU: The Bears are in need of receiving weapons in the worse way. Sutton is a big target at 6’3 and 220 lbs and gives second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky a true #1 target in the passing game.
  9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB , Ohio State: In recent drafts, the Niners have added plenty of defensive talent such as Rueben Foster, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas. Placing a talented corner like Ward adds another piece on the back end to a defense that stockpiling difference makers.
  10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB , Georgia: It seems for years now, the Raiders have attempted to add more talent around All-Pro Khalil Mack. The Raiders may have struck gold with the selection of Smith. A sideline-to-sideline thumper that “best inside linebacker in the NFL” potential.
  11. Miami Dolphins – Josh Jackson, CB , Iowa: It is possible of the Dolphins to look for their next franchise quarterback. But the safer bet may be to select a ballhawking cornerback who is coming off a season with eight interceptions and also brings added value as punt returner.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals – Tremaine Edmunds, LB , Virginia Tech: The Bengals could definitely use a dose of speed and athleticism at the linebacker position and the former Hokie has a unique blend of size, speed, and instincts that can elevate the Bengals on defense.
  13. Washington Redskins – Vita Vea, DT , Washington: The Redskins were dead last in rushing yards allowed per game this past season and a stout run defender at nose tackle is drastically needed. Vea solves that issue immediately as a 346-lb plug in the middle.
  14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA: Pass rushers is a spot that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later for the Packers and Davenport brings plenty of intrigue. Although he will be somewhat of a project as he must learn to be standup edge rusher but at 6’5 and 273-lbs, he can be a menace if the Packers are patient.
  15. Arizona Cardinals – Josh Allen, QB , Wyoming: The retirement of Carson Palmer leaves a considerable hole at the quarterback position. Allen wowed scouts with his arm at the Combine and will be looked upon as the next face at the position.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Christian Kirk, WR , Texas A&M: A lack of weapons was quite obvious for the Ravens last season and it probably cost the team a shot at the playoffs. Kirk is an electric weapon that has a versatile game that will open up a few things for the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco on offense.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne, DT , Alabama: Run defense was a constant issue for the Chargers this past season. So taking a prospect such as the 320-lb Payne makes plenty of sense. Payne is strong as an ox and deceptively athletic for a prospect his size. Payne, Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram could be powerful triumvirate for years to come.
  18. Seattle Seahawks – Mike McGlinchey, OT , Notre Dame: In each the past three seasons, the Seahawks have finished inside the top 12 in most sacks allowed. Two of those three seasons, they were inside the top five. A selection such as this is needed in order to keep quarterback Russell Wilson upright and healthy.
  19. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Ridley, WR , Alabama: The play of leading receiver Dez Bryant has tailed off a bit and part of it was due to extra attention he received along with running back Ezekiel Elliott being suspended midseason. To open things up on offense, the Cowboys grab a talent such as Ridley who averaged 74 catches a season during his three years in Tuscaloosa.
  20. Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice, RB , LSU: Running the football has been an Achilles heel for quite some time for the Lions until now. Guice has somewhat surprisingly gone under the radar during the pre-draft process but his talent is very evident and he solves the woes at the position for Detroit.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals (Projected trade w/ BUF) – Derwin James, S , Florida State: In an aggressive move to get another difference maker on defense, the Bengals give away a 2018 2nd, a 2018 5th, and a 2019 3rd to the Bills in exchange of the 21st overall pick. James adds another playmaker on a defense that could use one or two here and there.
  22. Buffalo Bills – Rashaan Evans, LB , Alabama: Originally with two first rounders, the Bills still look to add a key piece on defense in Evans. A 230-lb inside linebacker that head coach Sean McDermott would love to incorporate into his underrated defense.
  23. Los Angeles Rams – Harold Landry, EDGE , Boston College: After trading away former first round pick Robert Quinn, the Rams decide to find their next edge rusher in Landry, who’s impressive Combine yielded results of a 4.64 40 and a 3-cone drill of 6.88 seconds. Landry brings his explosiveness to the bright lights of Hollywood.
  24. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Oliver, CB , Colorado: Here, the Panthers can go in several directions, but arguably the best value for them is here at corner with Oliver. A corner with size, speed, and length to fit their Tampa 2 defensive scheme.
  25. Tennessee Titans – Arden Key, EDGE , LSU: The Titans surprised many by making the playoffs this past season. To keep that surge going, the titans could use a little spark in getting after the quarterback. While a little undersized, Key brings the pass rushing chops that the Titans could truly benefit.
  26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DL , Florida: Defensive tackle will be addressed early by the Falcons. In Bryan, Atlanta gets a raw prospect at 6’4 and 295-lbs but Bryan also has immense potential and his versatility fits like a glove for the Falcons are looking for on the defensive line.
  27. New Orleans Saints – Sam Hubbard, EDGE , Ohio State: Going back to the 2017 NFL Draft, New Orleans nailed a number of draft picks including a particular Ohio State corner. This time, they add another edge rusher opposite Cam Jordan from the Buckeye factory.
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Lamar Jackson, QB , Louisville: Surprise, surprise. While I truly believe Jackson is a top 15 talent, I think he may be in for a long evening during the opening round. So he lands in Pittsburgh where the likelihood of Ben Roethlisberger hanging up the cleats seems to grow by the day.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dallas Goedert, TE , South Dakota State: Best player available may be the best route for the Jaguars. So they take a chance on a 260-lb tight end that has uncommon athleticism and the ability to play in-line and line out wide for plenty of mismatches.
  30. Minnesota Vikings – Orlando Brown, OT , Oklahoma: Here is another team that is possibly heading towards the best player available route. Brown did not have himself a productive Combine that could likely affect his draft stock. Yet, for a team that wants to run the ball considerably, Brown is too much to pass up as a 345-lb house.
  31. New England Patriots – Connor Williams, OT , Texas: It was not that long ago that Williams was considered a potential top-5 selection. The Patriots need to shore up an offensive line that has been skating on average play the past few seasons. He’s facing questions about his inconsistent play but under the tutelage of the Patriots coaching staff, Williams may be able to reach his full potential.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles – Kolton Miller, OT , UCLA: A third straight offensive tackle closes out the first round for the Eagles who are looking to pair a prospect with right tackle Lane Johnson to give the Eagles their bookend tackles of the future.