- The Cleveland Browns are on the clock; who will they take first-overall?
- In what order will the upper tier of QBs come off the board?
- Complete first-round mock draft
Will the Cleveland Browns finally select their franchise quarterback with the first-overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft (April 26-28), after passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson? What will the New York Giants do with the second-overall pick? (I guess the title kind of spoiled that one.) Which pivot are the New York Jets targeting with the third-overall pick? …
Let’s just say that April 26th cannot come any sooner.
Before we dive into our 2018 mock draft, let’s address the flurry of moves we project the Buffalo Bills will make to climb up from 12th-overall to no. 2, and one the Dolphins will make to ensure they get their guy:
|Buffalo Bills||Chicago Bears|
|Receive 8th-overall pick in 2018 Draft||Receive 12th-overall pick in 2018 Draft +2018 3rd-round pick (96th-overall)|
|Buffalo Bills||Cleveland Browns|
|Receive 4th-overall pick in the 2018 Draft||Receive 8th-overall pick in 2018 Draft + 2018 2nd (53rd-overall) and 5th-round picks|
|Buffalo Bills||New York Giants|
|Receive 2nd-overall pick in 2018 Draft||Receive 4th-overall pick in 2018 Draft + 2018 2nd (56th-overall) and 3rd-round pick (65th-overall)|
|Miami Dolphins||San Francisco 49ers|
|Receive 9th-overall pick in 2018 Draft||Receive 11th-overall pick in 2018 Draft + two 2018 4th-round picks (123rd and 131st-overall)|
2018 First-Round Mock Draft
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
A year ago, the feeling of not wanting to have your career ended by being drafted by the Cleveland Browns was warranted. But after 2018 free agency, the top QB prospects should be praying they are the pivot John Dorsey chooses with the first-overall selection. On paper, Cleveland possesses one of the league’s best offensive lines; the duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson in the backfield is a very nice 1-2 punch; their receiving corps of Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku is enough to induce salivation; and they boast a defense with a ton of young talent.
The lucky signal-caller in our mock is Sam Darnold. Though his 2017 season failed to live up to the hype he created in the Rose Bowl against Penn State the previous year, Darnold is still seen by many as the QB prospect with the best combination of potential and pro polish.
2. Buffalo Bills (mock trade) – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
There is absolutely no way the Bills can enter 2018 with Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron as the only two QBs vying for the starting job. In sending Tyrod Taylor to the Browns, Buffalo was acquiring more draft capital to begin making their move up the board. The next domino fell when they sent Cordy Glenn to the Bengals to move from no. 21 to 12. But it doesn’t stop there.
The Bills see Josh Rosen as a far superior option to Josh Allen, whose accuracy issues are too much to overlook.
Worst final FBS season off-target rates among top QB prospects last 3 years:
Josh Allen 16.3%
DeShone Kizer 14.5%
Jeff Driskel 14.4%
Connor Cook 13.5%
C Hackenberg 13.4%
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) February 4, 2018
Rosen is arguably the most talented pivot in the draft. He can make every throw on the field, he possesses phenomenal footwork and mechanics, and there are no questions about his intelligence.
3. New York Jets (via Colts) – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Arm talent. It was too much to overlook in the cases of Kyle Boller (2003) and Jake Locker (2011), and will again lead to a quarterback with a lot of question marks going very early in the draft.
Allen has an absolute cannon, but his numbers vs Power 5 teams are awfully concerning:
- September 10, 2016 vs Nebraska: 16/32 for 189 yards, 1 TD and 5 INTs
- September 2, 2017 vs Iowa: 23/40 for 174 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs
- September 16, 2017 vs Oregon: 9/24 for 64 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT
Sure, his teammates may not have done much to help him out, but those don’t look like elite QB numbers.
For the Jets’ sake, let’s hope he’s more like a Christian Hackenberg 5.0.
4. New York Giants (mock trade) – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
In this scenario, the Giants acquire a couple extra picks in the 2018 Draft and still get the player they would have taken at no. 2. The departure of Jason Pierre-Paul leaves the Giants in need of more pass-rushers.
Bradley Chubb is the best edge player available and will be a difference-maker from Day 1 for the Giants.
5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
While many are mocking a quarterback to the Broncos with this pick, I see John Elway taking the safer pick at no. 5, and that is Quenton Nelson.
Denver has made it clear they want to prioritize building their offensive line – see the additions of Ronald Leary, Garett Bolles, and Jared Veldheer in the last 13 months – and they won’t stop there. After adding Nelson, finding a franchise QB will be a much easier task.
6. Indianapolis Colts (via Jets) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Colts certainly have bigger needs entering the draft, but Saquon Barkley is simply too talented.
Giving Andrew Luck a talent like Barkley in the backfield is going to be lethal. Colts fans won’t complain too much about their heinous defense when they’re winning games 44-41.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, FSU
No team allowed more yards through the air than the Bucs in 2017, and they failed to address the issue in free agency. Taking a defensive back is the only option for Tampa Bay here.
Minkah Fitzpatrick may be the safer pick, but Derwin James’ athleticism will result in the former Seminole coming off the board first.
8. Cleveland Browns (mock trade) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
The Browns got their QB, so it’s time to address their only other glaring hole: their secondary.
Cleveland has already added corners EJ Gaines, TJ Carrie, and Damarious Randall, but they still need one more player in the backend to tie it all together. The Browns may not be ready to give up on Jabrill Peppers yet, but they also don’t want to miss an opportunity to add a do-it-all defensive back in Fitzpatrick.
9. Miami Dolphins (mock trade) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Adam Gase is ready to hit the reset button in Miami and start over with his quarterback. Baker Mayfield was hands down the best QB in college football last season, and would be a really nice fit in Gase’s system.
The Dolphins have filled their locker room with high-character players this offseason (see Frank Gore and Danny Amendola), who Gase will rely upon to rid his new pivot of any attitude concerns.
10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
After seeing the Raiders roster moves this offseason, it’s seeming Jon Gruden wants to take the NFL back to the 90s. Well, every good team in that era had a solid middle linebacker, something Oakland is currently missing.
Roquan Smith is the most complete (inside) linebacker in the draft and will serve as Gruden’s Derrick Brooks in Oakland.
11. San Francisco 49ers – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
It will be very difficult for San Francisco to pass on a corner here, but Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch want to make Jimmy Garoppolo as happy and comfortable as possible in his first full season under center. The best way to do so is providing him with a legitimate WR1.
Courtland Sutton has the size, athleticism, quickness, toughness, and hands of an elite receiver. Garoppolo to Sutton could be the next unstoppable combo.
12. Chicago Bears – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
To stay afloat in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins, you’re going to need great corners – a lot of them.
Denzel Ward’s size and toughness has been questioned, but his supereme athleticism and footwork will allow him to excel inside while he beefs up as a pro.
13. Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Washington allowed 134.1 rushing yards per game last season (a league-high). Adding some beef to the middle of their defense should be of utmost importance in the draft.
Vita Vea can line up just about anywhere on the defensive line and plays with sheer violence. Lining Vea up with Jonathan Allen would be a great start to rebuilding Washington’s defense.
14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, Texas-San Antonio
The Packers need to give Aaron Rodgers at least a serviceable defense to win with, and it starts with adding players who can rush the passer.
Marcus Davenport is very raw, but his athleticism has caught the eyes of many.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
With the top four QB prospects off the board, Arizona will opt to build a better situation for their next franchise pivot to walk into.
Mike McGlinchey has the technique and instincts of a solid tackle, but he’ll need to pack on some more muscle to be able to stand up to NFL edge rushers.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
Throughout the Baltimore Ravens’ existence, they have almost always been able to hang their hat on their defense. In order to continue doing so, they’ll need to add some youth and athleticism to their linebacking corps.
The idea of Tremaine Edmunds falling to them at 16 would be a dream come true. The former Hokie can line up at any linebacker spot and excel.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Based off the talent they possess, the Chargers should be contending for Super Bowls, not missing the playoffs. One area they should be looking to improve is their interior defensive line.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a scary combo off the edge, but they need a big body in the middle to help against the run. Da’Ron Payne is their guy. The Bama product is incredibly powerful and arguably the best run-defender in the draft.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
With the departure of Richard Sherman, Seattle needs to rebuild their secondary fast if they want to get back to contending in 2018.
Josh Jackson opened eyes in 2017 with eight interceptions and 27 passes defensed. Seattle doesn’t need the most athletic corner in the draft, just one who can prevent receivers from catching the ball.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The Cowboys have a very promising linebacker corps with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. But they need to address the SAM position.
Vander Esch is still filling out his frame and adding some strength, but his ability as a sideline-to-sideline defender is very appealing, especially when you consider Sean Lee will be 32 before the start of the season.
20. Detroit Lions – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
New head coach Matt Patricia understands the best way to pester the opposition’s passing game is through pressure.
Outside of Ziggy Ansah (12 sacks) and Anthony Zettel (6.5 sacks), no other Lion recorded more than three sacks in 2017. Harold Landry would be a great complement to Ansah on the edge, giving Detroit a legitimate pass-rush to slow the QBs in their division.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Bills) – James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Philadelphia Eagles proved last season that football games are still won in the trenches. The Cincinnati Bengals have a long way to go before their offensive line is respected, but adding James Daniels would be a good start.
22. Buffalo Bills (via Chiefs) – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Being able to keep this pick in their many moves up the board is huge for Buffalo, who still need to surround their new pivot with weapons.
Calvin Ridley’s elite speed and separation ability will serve as the perfect fit alongside big-bodied Kelvin Benjamin.
23. New England Patriots (via Rams) – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Patriots need to find a tackle to replace Nate Solder. Williams may not be able to step in Day 1, but Bill Belichick will see him as a versatile, coachable lineman who he can groom to start at LT in the future.
24. Carolina Panthers – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Panthers were stout against the run last season, but need to continue adding talent in the secondary.
Jaire Alexander was arguably the most impressive corner at the combine, and his uneven 2017 tape can be attributed to a sprained ankle he played through.
25. Tennessee Titans – Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
With Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck both returning in 2018, Tennessee will need to be able to apply pressure on the QB without having to blitz.
The Titans two edge players last season – Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan – only combined for 14.5 sacks. Add in the fact that Orakpo will be 32 years old before the start of the season and Morgan has never totaled more than nine sacks in a season, and you’ve got a team who needs to find some athletic pass-rushers.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
After losing Dontari Poe in free agency, the Falcons need to firm up their defensive line. Taven Bryan may only serve as a situational player in 2018, but his upside is too much to pass on.
27. New Orleans Saints – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Yeah, the Saints should probably start thinking about life after Drew Brees, but this isn’t the position to do so. They came one crazy play short of heading to the NFC Championship last year, so New Orleans should be eyeing Super Bowl 53, instead.
While Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Michael Thomas served Brees just fine last year, the Saints offense would benefit from another receiver to take pressure off Thomas. Christian Kirk is a dynamic play-maker who would put this offense over the top.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Steelers will be without the services of Ryan Shazier in 2018, and the combo of Jon Bostic and Vince Williams at inside linebacker leaves a lot to be desired.
Long term, Pittsburgh would be best-served drafting another edge player to replace Bud Dupree. But the Steelers are thinking short term here with Rashaan Evans. If Shazier can make his way back to the field, he and Evans would be a dominant force in the middle.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
In a quarterback-driven league, the Jaguars simply cannot continue hiding Blake Bortles, nor can they continue hoping he turns into a respectable starting pivot.
Jacksonville’s ground game would greatly benefit from Lamar Jackson’s athleticism, and the Louisville product is no stranger to pushing the ball downfield.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Willy Hernandez, G, UTEP
The Vikings boast the league’s top defense from 2017, a bevy of talent at the skill positions, and now have Kirk Cousins at the helm. But all of that will be wasted if they fail to improve their offensive line, specifically the guard position.
Hernandez is the mauler Minnesota needs up front.
31. New England Patriots – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
Brandin Cooks was never a good fit in New England’s offense, but his departure (as well as Danny Amendola’s) leaves the Patriots a little thin at WR.
DJ Moore doesn’t have the height or length most teams attach to a receiver who plays outside, but that won’t bother the Patriots, who are comfortable lining Julian Edelman up on the outside. Moore’s athleticism and short-area quickness is what will win over Belichick and co.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Malcolm Jenkins is 30 years old now, and Rodney McLeod has been good but not great. So adding Ronnie Harrison, a combo safety with a ton of athleticism, makes a ton of sense here.