Omaha! ...

Month: February 2018

As of this writing, the 2018 NFL Draft is less than 10 weeks away, but the combine and free agency are fast approaching. This promises to be an “offseason” unlike any other given the rather unprecedented game of quarterback musical chairs that is about to commence. Not only could we see four quarterbacks taken in the top six picks this April, the quarterback free agent market (likely to be headlined by Kirk Cousins) will be as robust a market as we have seen in years. Since Cousins’ ultimate landing spot, which is still unknown, is likely to play a huge factor in how the first round shakes out, I was initially hesitant to do my first mock draft prior to free agency. However, all my friends are doing them now, so I decided to join in on the fun. Because of the fluidity of this QB situation, I outlined all possible scenarios that are still in play for QB-needy teams (particularly those who have been mentioned as top candidates in the Cousins sweepstakes) in my explanations. So without further ado, here is my first mock draft of 2018.

  1. Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)

-While the current expectation is that the Browns will select Darnold, do not rule out the possibility of Baker Mayfield being their choice here one bit. Former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan, who the Browns recently hired as a consultant for the 2018 draft, has stated publicly that the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is his favorite quarterback in this class…and GM John Dorsey HIGHLY values McCloughan’s opinions.

  1. Giants: Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)

-If the Browns do indeed decide to go with Darnold, look for the Giants to tab Rosen as the long-term successor to Eli Manning, who is on his last legs. On the other hand, if Cleveland selects Mayfield, don’t be surprised if the Giants roll with Darnold, whose size/athleticism combo will wow GM Dave Gettleman.

  1. Colts: Bradley Chubb (EDGE, North Carolina St.)

-The Colts are arguably the most likely candidate to trade down in this draft. They can trade down a few spots with the loser of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes (Broncos or Jets) and still get the guy they need to re-ignite their pass rush.


  1. Browns [from Texans]: Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB/S, LSU)

-The Browns have quietly built a rather stellar defensive front seven. Fitzpatrick would give them a sorely needed playmaker on the back end.


  1. Broncos: Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)

-If the Broncos land Kirk Cousins as several currently expect them to, look for them to land arguably the best (and safest) overall prospect in the draft or trade down. Should they fail to sign Cousins, they will almost certainly try to trade up and select a quarterback.


  1. Jets: Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)

-The Jets will also be major players for Kirk Cousins thus the possible scenarios listed for the Broncos above also apply to them. In this case, Mayfield could provide the Jets the long-term stability they have lacked for so long at the most important position in sports.


  1. Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)

-Barkley could be the final piece that will make the Buccaneers a top-five NFL offense.


  1. Bears: Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)

-In 2017, the Bears were quietly the NFL’s seventh best pass defense. If they retain Kyle Fuller and draft Denzel Ward, the Chicago secondary could only be a bigger nightmare for opposing quarterbacks in 2018.


9*. 49ers: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)

-Given Reuben Foster’s recent legal troubles, it wouldn’t hurt the 49ers to select another top-tier linebacker prospect from the SEC. Also, if Foster matures, he and Smith could give Niners fans memories of the Bowman/Willis days.


9*. Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)

-Sans Khalil Mack, the Raiders are still lacking talent on the defensive side of the ball. Edmunds, arguably the most freakish athlete in this draft, can both be an off-ball linebacker and rush the passer from the edge.


  1. Dolphins: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)

-With Jarvis Landry likely headed elsewhere in free agency, the Dolphins select his more-than-ideal replacement in Calvin Ridley. A big, speedy route-running maven, Ridley will provide a security blanket for Ryan Tannehill or whoever the Dolphins trot out at QB in 2018.


  1. Bengals: Orlando Brown (OT, Oklahoma)

-This year’s OT class does not have a consensus favorite. Whether they think it’s Brown, Connor Williams, or Mike McGlinchey, expect the Bengals to upgrade their tackle situation early in the draft.


  1. Redskins: Vita Vea (DT, Washington)

-Teaming the 344-lb. athletic freak with 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen will give the Redskins one of the most terrifying defensive fronts in the league.


  1. Packers: Josh Jackson (CB, Iowa)

-The Packers need more playmakers on defense and they will get one with this ball-hawking corner who tallied 27 pass breakups and eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes last year.


  1. Cardinals: Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)

-The Cardinals are another team to watch out for in the Kirk Cousins derby. If they don’t land him, they might have to trade up and select Allen.


  1. Ravens: Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)

-Reuniting McGlinchey with his former college teammate Ronnie Stanley would go a long way in making the Ravens offensive line a respectable unit again.


  1. Chargers: Derwin James (S, Florida State)

-The Chargers have an amazing young defense, but they still haven’t found a long-term successor to Eric Weddle. James can be that guy.


  1. Seahawks: Connor Williams (OT, Texas)

-Seahawks have needs at both RT and guard, and Williams will end up satisfying one of them regardless of where he ends up position-wise at the pro level.


  1. Cowboys: Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)

-The most important position in Rod Marinelli’s defense is the three-technique defensive tackle. Hurst fits this role and system to a T.


  1. Lions: Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)

-The Lions have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Guice and his nasty, powerful running style can end that drought immediately.


  1. Bills: Billy Price (C, Ohio State)

-Bills center Eric Wood recently had to announce his retirement due to a neck injury. Price would be THE ideal long-term replacement at the pivot in Buffalo.


  1. Bills [from Chiefs]: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)

-Much of the success of Sean McDermott’s defense hinges on having reliable, three-down defensive tackles. Payne is already a force against the run and has untapped potential as a pass rusher. Also, do not rule the Bills trading up into the top five for a quarterback given the ammunition they have in this draft.


  1. Rams: Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)

-Alexander has been compared by friend of the show Jonah Tuls to Broncos All-Pro corner Chris Harris, Jr., who Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips coached for two years in Denver. If Alexander’s medicals at the Combine check out fine, don’t be surprised if Phillips bangs on everything in sight for this kid.


  1. Panthers: Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)

-With Andrew Norwell likely headed elsewhere in free agency, this would be a good spot for the Panthers to snatch his replacement. Hernandez is a perfect fit for the Panthers power blocking system, and has incredibly light feet for his approximately 340-lb. frame.


  1. Titans: James Daniels (C, Iowa)

-The Titans will be switching to more of a zone-blocking system under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and Daniels is the perfect center for such a scheme.


  1. Falcons: Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)

-The Falcons had a hard time replacing Chris Chester at right guard last season. His long-term replacement can likely be found right up the road with the versatile, athletic Wynn, who was one of the big stars down at the Senior Bowl.


  1. Saints: Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)

-Landry would have been projected higher had it not been for an injury-riddled 2017 campaign. He would make an ideal pass rushing partner for Cameron Jordan on the opposite edge.


  1. Steelers: Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)

-With Ben Roethlisberger closer to the end than the beginning of his career, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Steelers to get the 2016 Heisman winner and groom him as Big Ben’s long-term successor for a few years.


  1. Jaguars: Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)

-Jacksonville is a team with very few holes. That said, with Paul Posluszny set to turn 34 this year, this would be a great spot for the Jaguars to nab his replacement.


  1. Vikings: Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)

-Stefon Diggs’ contract expires at the end of the 2018 season. Should the Vikings decide to give Kirk Cousins a big contract in free agency (a strong possibility), they will likely be short on the cap space needed to pay Diggs, thus selecting the polished Kirk would be the best possible move in this situation.


  1. Patriots: Hayden Hurst (TE, South Carolina)

-With Gronk contemplating retirement and Dwayne Allen seemingly on the way out, it should behoove the Patriots to give Tom Brady another big target down the seam. Brady and Belichick would love having Hurst and his fearless mentality.


  1. Eagles: Donte Jackson (CB, LSU)

-The Super Bowl LII champions are still looking for more help at corner. Jackson, who could break the record for fastest ever 40-yard dash time at the Combine, could give the Eagles a long term three-headed monster at the position alongside 2017 rookies Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.


*-The order in which the 49ers and Raiders pick will be determined by a coin toss at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place February 27-March 5 in Indianapolis


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