2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.2

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
I’m writing this late Wednesday, so if it leaks that this pick isn’t Sam Darnold overnight don’t yell at me. Or do. Either way, it’s still unclear where Cleveland wants to go with this pick. So I’ll go with my gut. Sam Darnold had a shaky year, but still has the highest upside among this year’s quarterbacks. When he’s in a rhythm he’s about as perfect as you can get at the position. If the Browns are convinced their coaching staff can help Darnold cut down on his turnovers and reach his peak form, he’s the no-brainer first pick.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
It appears that the Giants aren’t sold on anyone in this year’s quarterback class. I’m inclined to believe them, because you’d at least expect them to lie in order to bait teams into trading up to number two. Saquon Barkley appears to be the favorite if they don’t go quarterback. Barkley is a generational talent who’s a homerun threat in both the run and pass game. He’d be a huge help to Eli Manning.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
It appears the Jets have zeroed in on Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is my top quarterback in this year’s class. I feel he’s the right combination of upside and safety. He has an NFL arm, good mobility, and his accuracy is out of this world. With Bridgewater and McCown on the roster, the Jets don’t have to start Mayfield right away but I expect him to seriously compete for the week one starting job.

4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
I assume this pick is between Saquon Barkley and Bradley Chubb in that order. With Barkley off the board, the Browns “settle” for Chubb. Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb together would be one intimidating duo. Pair that with Emmanuel Ogbah on rotational duty and the Browns have an exciting pass rush.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Case Keenum signing a two-year deal heavily implies Denver sees him as a stop-gap. And they can coach-speak Paxton Lynch all they want, but it doesn’t erase the pitiful start to his career. Josh Rosen isn’t flashy, but he’s the safest quarterback in the class. His mechanics are great and he’s displayed solid accuracy as well. He’s capable of starting right away, but a year on the bench wouldn’t hurt either.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
I’ve yet to change this pick because it makes too much sense. Priority number one for the Colts has to be protecting Andrew Luck. Quenton Nelson is a generational guard prospect who has dominated opposing linemen his whole college career. Nelson is well-rounded in both pass and run blocking.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, SS, Florida State
Tampa Bay’s pass defense was dreadful this year. In particular, they struggled covering running backs and tight ends. Derwin James is a perfect example of the modern day safety and would help them in that regard. He’s capable of playing either safety or hybrid linebacker. His athleticism is off the charts and his energetic play is difficult to ignore.

8. Chicago Bears: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Chicago Bears could use another EDGE rusher to pair with Leonard Floyd. Harold Landry is an athletic and nimble pass rusher. His speed off the edge makes him a difficult block for opposing linemen. He struggled with injuries but his play did take a step back. Vic Fangio is a fantastic coach, so I assume the Bears are confident they can channel his junior year form.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers linebacking corps has been an issue these past few seasons. Tremaine Edmunds is a risky pick, but the payoff could be huge. He has great size and athleticism for linebacker. He’ll require patience, as he’s prone to biting on play-fakes and misdirections. Good coaching can correct this but it won’t happen overnight.

10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Oakland’s secondary was a glaring weakness this past season. They could use upgrades at most positions in their defensive backfield. Minkah Fitzpatrick is another jack of all trades type of prospect. He’s capable of playing corner, safety, and hybrid linebacker. In addition to his pass coverage, Fitzpatrick was competent in run support and strong as a blitzer.

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins will have failed if they don’t address linebacker early in the draft. Especially if someone like Roquan Smith is on the board. Smith is a complete linebacker. He’s athletic, versatile, and a well-rounded defender. He thrives in pass coverage, something Miami’s linebackers were dreadful in. There’s not much you can’t ask him to do.

12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I’ll try to keep this simple, because I could write a dissertation on Josh Allen. Allen’s accuracy is a big concern. His success in the NFL will rely on his ability to fix his accuracy issues. In watching him, the most noticeable and fixable cause of his inaccuracy is his poor mechanics. Good coaching will spot this right away and work with him on it. It’s just difficult to know whether clean mechanics will be enough to turn him into a reliable passer.

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Nose tackle is a huge need for the Redskins, especially if the Giants select Saquon Barkley at number two. This may seem high for a guy who may not be a three down player in the NFL. But, Vita Vea would be an immediate upgrade at a dire need for the Redskins. He’s a big body who clogs up the middle. Vea isn’t a pass rusher by any means, but he demands double teams which helps free up his outside rushers.

14. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Tramon Williams was a solid signing, but Green Bay needs a long-term solution at corner. Denzel Ward does most things well. He plays tight coverage and is comfortable reading the quarterback’s eyes. Ward has great anticipation and is a great athlete as well. He’s not the strongest corner, so he’s best suited for playing inside.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Assuming Sam Bradford can stay healthy this would be a nice spot for Lamar Jackson. Jackson is the most dynamic quarterback in the draft. He has an NFL arm and had his fair share of impressive throws at Louisville. He’s still a little rough around the edges. His mechanics and footwork need major cleaning up. There’s some concerns about his accuracy, but I do feel most of his issues fall back on his poor mechanics.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Ravens made a couple of signings at receiver this offseason, but still have an uninspiring group. Calvin Ridley can provide them a reliable number one option. Ridley is a well-rounded receiver with clean route running and reliable hands. He’s comfortable making adjustments on throws and displayed good football intelligence. His strength remains his biggest concern, it’s unlikely Ridley will be a threat after the catch.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Chargers need linebackers who are competent in pass coverage. Rashaan Evans is a smooth linebacker with great instincts. He’s comfortable following a play as it develops. Evans was great in run support and has experience picking up running backs on passing routes as well.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
German Ifedi should never start at right tackle again. Connor McGlinchey is the best tackle in the draft. He’s experienced at both sides, but best suited as a right tackle. He was a major part of Notre Dame’s strong offensive line and was competent in both run and pass blocking.

19. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Releasing Dez Bryant makes wide receiver the heavy favorite for the Cowboys first pick. D.J. Moore has the physical tools you want out of a receiver. Moore is strong and very fast. He uses his speed to blow by opposing corners. He’s elusive as well when he’s in the open field.

20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The Lions ranked 20th in sacks last year and could use a boost in that regard. Marcus Davenport is a raw prospect with tremendous upside. He’ll have to refine his game a bit and it’s warranted to worry that his collegiate success was due to him going against lesser competition. But in watching him, I was immediately impressed by his speed and explosiveness. Davenport also displayed a high motor and appears to have a strong work ethic which is encouraging for his development.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, C, Iowa
Cincinnati offensive line could use a complete overhaul. Center is probably the most glaring weakness. The top center in this year’s class is a toss-up between James Daniels, Billy Price, and Frank Ragnow. I lean Daniels in the end. I’m a fan of his technique and athleticism. He was also strong in both run and pass blocking. He can be a team’s anchor for 10+ years.

22. Buffalo Bills: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Matt Milano is the sole linebacker worthy of a starting spot on the Bills roster. Leighton Vander Esch would be a welcomed addition to their linebacking corps. Vander Esch impresses scouts with his size, athleticism, and power. What’s even more impressive is despite being only a one-year starter, Vander Esch has displayed impressive instincts and awareness on the field. It makes you wonder how much better he can get.

23. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
New England will likely go best player available at both picks. Fortunately, corner also covers a huge need for them as well. Jaire Alexander is a fantastic cover corner. He’s often step for step with receivers and is comfortable reading a quarterback’s eyes. Alexander also has great awareness and closing speed on underneath plays.

24. Carolina Panthers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Josh Jackson would be a nice pairing with James Bradberry. Jackson is a raw prospect with a nice set of tools to work with. He’s an athletic and aggressive corner who burst onto the scene with 8 interceptions last year. He’s only a one year starter, so his tendency to be overaggressive is likely a sign of Jackson getting comfortable with the position. I expect him to strike a healthy balance between being smart and aggressive as he gains experience.

25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Titans have been looking for the anchor of their defense these past couple of seasons. Da’Ron Payne may just be that guy. Payne is a massive defensive tackle who is strong in run defense. He has great awareness and athleticism as a defender. He showed some decent pass rushing moves, but it’s still a weakness. Good coaching could potentially develop that aspect of his game.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
If the Falcons could improve their guard play, they have the making of one of the strongest offensive lines in the league. Will Hernandez is pure power as a blocker. He lacks ideal length, but his strength allows him to dominate opposing linemen. He’d be an instant starter for Atlanta.

27. New Orleans Saints: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Saints have a solid core of Alex Okafor and Cam Jordan, but you can never have too many pass rushers. I doubt Sam Hubbard is many people’s favorite pass rusher, but he’s well-rounded and gets the job done. On top of Hubbard’s great size, he also has an impressive motor and strong awareness as a defender.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates III, FS, Wake Forest
Morgan Burnett was a great pickup for the Steelers, but they could still use another safety to pair with him. Jessie Bates impressed me with his versatility. He was strong as a run defender and was comfortable covering receivers. His primary weakness is his lack of aggression. At times he fails to step up and make routine tackles. He’ll need to correct this to take the next step in his game.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
The Jaguars have a pretty strong left side of their offensive line, but could use some upgrades on the right side. Isaiah Wynn is a versatile prospect who’s capable of playing all three positions. He’s best suited at guard. Wynn’s a solid blocker in both aspects, but particularly in run blocking.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
With Mike Remmers likely moving inside to guard, the Vikings will need to grab a right tackle early in the draft. Kolton Miller is an intriguing prospect. He’s a bit raw, but scouts will fall in love with his length and athleticism. He also has experience playing both right and left tackle at UCLA.

31. New England Patriots: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
The Patriots struggled to get pressure from their interior line. Taven Bryan is a raw prospect with the potential to be a deadly pass rusher. Bryan has fantastic quickness and is great at hitting his gaps. His versatility will be intriguing as well. He’s capable of playing inside or out on the defensive line.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The Eagles can afford to go best player available at 32. A big reason they won the Super Bowl was because Philadelphia frequently won the battle in the trenches. Maurice Hurst has a pretty well-rounded game. He had a quick initial move and was a headache for teams as a pass rusher. I was also impressed with his awareness as a run defender as well.