2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.1

Updated: April 23, 2018

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Browns are going with a quarterback. That’s a given. Who they’re going with, not so much. I mocked Sam Darnold to Cleveland in my previous mock and if I was a betting man I’d still go with Darnold. But, with rumors swirling, I figured I’d change it up a bit and entertain some other possibilities.

This pick will come down to either Darnold or Josh Allen. The two quarterbacks, to me, that have the most upside in the draft. Allen is bigger, more mobile, and has the stronger arm. Cleveland may feel Allen edges out Darnold for the highest potential. Allen does have a ton of work to do and would benefit from a year on the bench. With the addition of Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland can afford to do that. As I’ve stated before, Allen’s accuracy issues will make or break him. If his inaccuracy is due to poor mechanics, which is fixable, then Allen can surprise a lot of people.

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns picking Josh Allen at one would send shock waves through the draft. Sam Darnold appeared to be the only quarterback the Giants were in love with. With him available, New York passes on the big three position players which will have a huge impact on the top 10.

Sam Darnold struggled a bit this past season with turnovers. However, when he got into a rhythm he still looked very strong. Darnold displays great poise and accuracy. He has the mobility you want out of a quarterback and is comfortable throwing on the run. The type of offenses he can play in are limitless. Turnovers will remain his biggest concern. Many of his interceptions left you wondering what the hell he was thinking. A year behind Eli Manning may allow him the opportunity to find the cause of his increase in turnovers.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
You don’t trade up to pick number three and not draft a quarterback. This pick will come down to either Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield. I had Rosen here in my first mock. But, recent talk suggests that Mayfield has cemented himself as the Jets number one guy.

Baker Mayfield is my top quarterback in this year’s draft. He leans on the safer side of prospects while also having tremendous upside. His accuracy is deadly and he displayed solid mobility as well. Mayfield also has an NFL arm. His mechanics will need cleaning up and some question his maturity. It’s worth noting that he benefited from playing against weaker Big 12 defenses. Assuming he has the mental makeup and work ethic, I have a hard time seeing him fail.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The butterfly effect of selecting Josh Allen continues. With the Giants selecting Sam Darnold, the Browns now have their pick of the big three positional prospects. With Isaiah Crowell now on the Jets, Cleveland could use a replacement at running back.

Saquon Barkley is far and away the best player in the draft. Barkley’s strong in both the run and pass game. His mixture of speed and elusiveness makes him a home run threat on every play. Pairing Barkley with Tyrod Taylor and Josh Gordon would be nice start to Cleveland’s draft. Assuming Cleveland then selects a number two receiver in the 2nd round, they would have the making of a very potent offense.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Despite adding Case Keenum this off-season, a quarterback will still be in play at number five. Quenton Nelson seems to be the strongest non-quarterback possibility here. Recently, Elway stated that he values intelligence and pocket awareness in quarterbacks over a strong arm. That description happens to fit a quarterback available at number five.

Josh Rosen won’t amaze you when you watch him. But he deserves credit for being well-rounded. His play has very few weaknesses. He has a solid arm, good accuracy, and great mechanics. He’s the safest quarterback in the draft to me. Rosen’s personality does worry teams. If he goes this high, Denver feels comfortable that it won’t be an issue.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
One of the few picks I didn’t change. Bradley Chubb will get serious consideration here because EDGE rusher is a huge need. I have to assume though that protecting Andrew Luck is priority number one for the Colts.

It’s rare to see a guard go this high. But Quenton Nelson has that type of upside. Many believe that he has the potential to step in right away and be one of the best guards in the game. Nelson embarrassed opposing linemen close to every game. He’s well-rounded and strong in both run and pass protection. Any concerns I have about him makes me feel like I’m nitpicking for the sake of it.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
A pass rusher here may be a bit of a surprise considering the Buccaneers added Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul this off-season. But, Bradley Chubb would be a steal at number seven and you can never have too many pass rushers.

Bradley Chubb’s combine raised some mild concerns, but watching him play puts most of those questions to rest. He pairs his dominating power with a high motor. Chubb’s bull rush has embarrassed opposing linemen throughout his career. I was also impressed with his interior pass rush as well.

8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Chicago Bears have a huge hole at inside linebacker. At number eight, they’ll have their choice of the top linebackers in the draft. Ryan Pace is a fan of athletic prospects, and one specifically fits that trait.

I’m mixed on Tremaine Edmunds. There’s no denying his size, athleticism, and upside. If he reaches his full potential he can be a top linebacker in the league. But his mental game has a lot of catching up to do. He’s been a victim of play-fakes and misdirections his entire college career. He has the physical ability to start right away but requires patience. He’ll be prone to mental lapses his rookie year. Good coaching can correct this. And luckily for Edmunds, he’ll have the chance to learn from Vic Fangio.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The San Francisco 49ers could only muster 30 sacks last season. They’ll need to add a boost to their pass rush in the draft. I wasn’t amazed by this year’s pass rushing class, so I’m inclined to believe the 49ers will add an EDGE rusher early.

Harold Landry is a high-risk, high-reward type of pick. Landry has fantastic athleticism and is very nimble. It’s impressive to see how low he can get against opposing linemen. He struggled with injuries in 2017 but his play did take a big step back from his junior year. If the 49ers believe they can channel his junior year form, they may be willing to take an early risk on Landry.

10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Opposing teams shredded Oakland’s secondary. They have massive needs at corner and could use upgrades at safety. It’s likely they’ll select the best defensive back available at number 10.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a prime example of a modern-day defensive back. His versatility is huge with the ability to play corner, safety, or a hybrid linebacker. At Alabama, he displayed a diverse skill-set as a strong pass defender and he was helpful in run support. Alabama also loved using him on corner blitzes as well.

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Miami has weaknesses all throughout their linebacking corps. Opposing quarterbacks particularly targeted them through the air. I expect the Dolphins to put emphasis on finding a linebacker competent in pass coverage.

Roquan Smith is the most complete and pro-ready linebacker in the draft. Smith is athletic and comfortable moving around on defense. He’s capable of playing either inside or outside linebacker. Smith is strong as both a run and pass defender as well.

12. Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Bills made some noise trading up to number 12. Rumors point to them trying to move up further, but it’s difficult to say whether they will be successful in doing so. One thing’s clear, with only AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman, Buffalo is certain to take a quarterback early.

This could be a solid situation for Lamar Jackson, if the Bills are patient. He’d benefit from a year on the bench to clean up his poor mechanics. Assuming his mechanics can fix some of his inaccuracy issues (they should), Jackson has as good upside as any quarterback in the draft. He’s the most dynamic quarterback in this year’s class and has an NFL arm. With his elusiveness, he’d thrive in an offense heavy on RPOs.

13. Washington Redskins: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Trading Kendall Fuller was a massive blow to Washington’s secondary. Fuller was coming into his own and was strong as a slot corner. This is a deep corner class, so luckily Washington will have some strong options at 13.

Denzel Ward’s size and play-style suggest he’s better suited as a nickel corner. Ward is an athletic corner with great anticipation. He plays tight coverage and is great at reading a quarterback’s eyes.

14. Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Morgan Burnett was a terrific safety for the Green Bay Packers. But, Green Bay let him walk in free agency. This is a solid safety class so the Packers should be able to grab Burnett’s replacement early.

Derwin James is another example of a modern NFL safety. He’s capable of playing either safety or hybrid linebacker. James is an athletic freak and his energy on the field is contagious. His instincts are a bit lacking, but good coaching can correct this.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Steve Wilks has stated he wants to place a heavy emphasis on improving Arizona in the trenches. Chandler Jones was dominant last year and would benefit from Arizona adding another big body to their interior line.

Vita Vea is a massive defensive tackle. He’s the type of player that doesn’t rack up huge stats, but makes players around him better. His size can limit his pass rushing ability, but he makes up for it by collapsing the pocket. Because of this, he demands double teams and helps free up his outside rushers.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Ravens have been adding to their receiving corps throughout the offseason. But, it still lacks excitement. With their signing of Willie Snead, they’re no longer contenders for Dez Bryant. Look for Baltimore to consider adding one of the top receivers in the draft at 16.

Calvin Ridley is smooth. He has success getting off of tight coverage and runs beautiful routes. He’s quick off the ball and positions himself well on his routes. Ridley has great athleticism and moves with the quarterback on busted plays. He does cause concern with his strength. He rarely breaks tackles and may struggle against more physical corners.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Charger linebackers struggled on third down in pass coverage. While their linebacking corps as a whole could use an upgrade, I expect them to zero in on one strong in pass coverage.

Rashaan Evans is a very well-rounded linebacker with great athleticism. His play oozes confidence. Evans has strong instincts and very rarely gets lost when following a play. He’s strong in the run game and is capable of picking up running backs on passing routes as well. He’s gotten better every season and is one of my favorite linebackers in the draft.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Seattle’s offensive line has been terrible and is holding back their offense. German Ifedi especially has been god-awful and needs replacing. The Seahawks are a strong candidate to trade down and accumulate more picks. Which is good, because even in the late 20s, they should have plenty of offensive line options. But for now, let’s imagine who they’d pick at 18.

Connor McGlinchey is the top tackle prospect in the draft. He’s reliable in both run and pass blocking. He played both tackle spots at Notre Dame. McGlinchey’s best suited as a right tackle in the NFL.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
With the release of Dez Bryant, wide receiver becomes a top priority. Some people are down on this year’s wide receiver class. And while I don’t see any transcendent talents, there’s number one receiver potential with the top guys.

Courtland Sutton is a physical and big bodied receiver. At 6’3″ 218, Sutton is an ideal redzone threat. He gets great positioning on jump balls and has reliable hands as well. His route running could use cleaning up and his play speed is below average. But with his tools, I see the making of a solid number one guy.

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
It was a popular talking point about how the Lions haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in a game since 2013. Luckily, the 2018 draft class is the ideal class to add a franchise running back.

Derrius Guice is a bull. It seems like every time he touches the ball he’s getting positive yards. He pairs his intimating power with surprising speed. Teams wanting to bring down Guice are going to have to send multiple guys his way. He can step in right away and be a number one back.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Bengals could use upgrades all across their offensive line. The loss of Kevin Zeitler has particularly hurt Cincinnati. A guard strong in run blocking can help make things easier for Joe Mixon.

Will Hernandez lacks ideal length, but he makes up for it in pure power. Hernandez is one of the most consistent and strongest run blockers in the draft. He’d be a huge boost to a Bengal team that ranked 31st in rushing. His strength allows him to bulldoze opposing linemen.

22. Buffalo Bills: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The Bills front seven could use an upgrade, in particular their linebacking group. They let Preston Brown walk and outside of Matt Milano, they have no starting caliber players at linebacker.

Teams will fall in love with Leighton Vander Esch’s upside. He’s a one-year starter, but already looks like a star in the making. Vander Esch has a great combo of size and athleticism. He displays great awareness, closing speed, and power. Finally, he’s such an intelligent player and is fantastic at diagnosing plays.

23. New England Patriots: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
Defensive end may no longer be a pressing need with the addition of Adrian Clayborn. But New England likes to go best player available. It also doesn’t hurt to have a surplus of pass rushers.

Marcus Davenport is a raw and versatile prospect. He played standing up at UTSA, but his size suggests he’s capable of playing with his hand on the ground. Davenport’s positive traits include an impressive speed rush and a high motor.

24. Carolina Panthers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
James Bradberry has been a good corner for Carolina but they’re still looking to replace Josh Norman. This is a very strong defensive back class so they’ll likely be able to snag a great cornerback at 24.

Josh Jackson is a very athletic cornerback. Jackson made a name for himself as a ballhawk at Iowa. The downside to being an aggressive corner is that he’s prone to get burnt often. As a one year starter, it’s clear he’s still getting comfortable with the position. He’ll only get better once he strikes a healthy balance between being smart and aggressive as a player.

25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Sylvester Williams was a disappointment for Tennessee. Bennie Logan is a decent nose tackle, but more of a stopgap solution. The Titans may want to look for a more permanent answer.

Da’Ron Payne is a massive defensive tackle with a complete game. He’s a strong hand-fighter and has a nice set of interior and outside pass rush moves. The strongest run defender in the draft, Payne is a strong tackle. He reacts well to run plays and was consistent in making plays behind the line of scrimmage.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
The Atlanta Falcons have put together a pretty solid offensive line. Both Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland could use competition at guard though.

Isaiah Wynn’s versatility will be intriguing to teams. A talented lineman who’s capable of playing all three positions. He’s best suited at guard and displayed his aggression through strong run blocking. He also has impressive athleticism and is reliable in pass blocking as well.

27. New Orleans Saints: Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
It’s important to place a strong emphasis on the pass rush. The Saints already have a couple of solid defensive ends in Cam Jordan and Alex Okafor, but Okafor suffered an Achilles injury recently. The Saints may want to add another rusher in case Okafor struggles to come back.

Sam Hubbard doesn’t jump out at you when watching him. But overall, he’s a well-rounded prospect. Hubbard has a great motor, awareness, and ideal size for a pass rusher.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Morgan Burnett is a very talented and experienced safety. He was a great pickup for Pittsburgh. It’d be great for them if they paired a rookie safety with Burnett.

Justin Reid is an athletic safety who displayed some versatility at Stanford. Reid also shows some nice closing speed as well. He’ll need to sharpen his instincts, because he fell victim often to play-fakes.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
The Jaguars are a pretty well-rounded team. They can afford to go BPA and pick a prospect who may help them more in a season or two as opposed to right away. Calais Campbell has been huge for Jacksonville but will be 32 at the start of the season, they may want to start grooming his replacement.

Taven Bryan is one of the best blitzing defensive tackles in the draft. His speed and athleticism make him a difficult block when he hits his gaps. Bryan is capable of playing either defensive tackle or defensive end in the NFL. He’s a one-year starter, so he’s a bit raw as a prospect especially with his instincts. In Jacksonville, he’d have more of a situational role initially which he’d benefit from.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Minnesota will likely kick Mike Remmers inside to guard. This would then leave a hole at right tackle. They’ll have a couple of options here at 30.

Kolton Miller will be an interesting guy to watch on draft night. Scouts have him all over the board from the top half of the first to early 2nd. In the end, a team in the first round will likely fall in love with his upside and athleticism. Miller also has experience at both tackle spots.

31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
It goes without saying losing Malcolm Butler hurts New England’s defense. It’s a deep corner class so New England will have the opportunity to grab a quality replacement at the end of the first.

Jaire Alexander looks so comfortable on the field. Alexander shadows receivers and is great a reading a quarterback’s eyes. He has nice awareness as well and is quick to react to underneath plays.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Philadelphia is a well-rounded team that can go best player available at pick 32. The Eagles had to let Trey Burton walk in free agency, so they may look towards adding a replacement early in the draft.

Mike Gesicki is an athletic tight end who would be great value at number 32. He’s weak as a blocker, but a terrific pass catcher. It seems like every time I watch him he’s open thanks to his fantastic route running ability. He’d be a great pairing with Zach Ertz.