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Category: 2018 NFL Draft

With the free agency frenzy pretty much in the rearview mirror, many assumed more certainty as to how round one of the 2018 NFL Draft will pan out would arrive by now. Wrong! With even more trades sending shockwaves through draft boards around the league (especially the Jets moving up to three overall and the Giants sending Jason Pierre-Paul packing for Tampa), many doing mock drafts have had to delete them entirely and start over. Some have even refused to continue doing them until the final days before the draft. But as I have said all along, mocks are only exercises in the hypothetical. And especially in a draft as unpredictable as this one, we all have to be prepared for every possible scenario. That’s why I will continue to do them in these final four weeks leading up to the big night on April 26. Without further ado, here is my second of six mock drafts. Have at it…

 

  1. Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)

-Unless he implodes from now until April 26 [spoiler alert: he won’t], Darnold is more than likely to be the first overall pick in this draft.

  1. Giants: Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)

-The fact the Giants didn’t accept the Jets offer to trade down SCREAMS to me that they will draft Rosen as the heir to Eli Manning.

 

  1. Jets [from Colts]: Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)

-While many, if not most, believe Josh Allen will be the pick in this scenario, I strongly believe Mike Maccagnan would prefer the more efficient and accurate Mayfield instead, especially given how epically the Christian Hackenberg experiment failed.

 

  1. Browns [from Texans]: Bradley Chubb (EDGE, North Carolina State)

-A defensive front with Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Larry Ogunjobi and Chubb might be too difficult for the Browns to say “no” to.

 

  1. Broncos: Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)

-Allen’s jaw-dropping arm talent will likely be too much for John Elway to pass over.

 

  1. Colts [from Jets]: Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)

-Drafting the best offensive linemen (if not overall prospect) in this draft class would be the best possible “welcome back present” for Andrew Luck.

 

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

-Barkley will be at his best in an offense like Tampa’s, which has an abundance of weapons that will take the attention of defenses away from him.

 

  1. Bears: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)

-The Bears have had a revolving door at linebacker since Brian Urlacher retired, and Smith will likely put a stop to that for the next 6-8 years, if not longer.

 

  1. 49ers: Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)

-Drafting arguably the best corner in the draft will likely do a lot more to solve the 49ers’ issues at the position than signing Richard Sherman would.

 

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

-The Raiders desperately need more playmakers on defense aside from Khalil Mack, and the freakishly athletic and versatile James would provide such an impact immediately.

 

  1. Dolphins: Vita Vea (DT, Washington)

-After releasing Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins would be wise to go with the best DT in this draft, especially if they are unable to move up and select a quarterback.

 

  1. Bills (from Bengals): Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)

-If the Bills are unable to trade up for a QB and are forced to stay at 12 (which seems likely at this juncture), Edmunds would be hard for Sean McDermott to pass on given his love for freakish athletic linebackers.

 

  1. Redskins: Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB/S, Alabama)

-Fitzpatrick isn’t the special, top-five talent some say he is, but his versatility would be more than welcome in Washington, especially given the high-powered NFC East passing attacks the Redskins have to face twice a year.

 

  1. Packers: Harold Landry (EDGE, Boston College)

-With an aging Clay Matthews and an inconsistent Nick Perry as their main weapons off the edge, the Packers have to be hoping the second best pass rusher in a talent-poor class falls to them here.

 

  1. Cardinals: Connor Williams (OT, Texas)

-The Cardinals will try to trade up and select a quarterback, and if they are unable to, they will possibly opt to select the athletic Williams, an ideal long-term replacement for Jared Veldheer at right tackle.

 

  1. Ravens: James Daniels (C, Iowa)

-After losing Ryan Jensen in free agency, the Ravens could opt for an immediate upgrade at the pivot with the pro-ready Daniels.

 

  1. Chargers: Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)

-The Chargers have few holes on their roster, but drafting Alexander to play the slot would add an extra dimension to their talented young secondary.

 

  1. Seahawks: Carlton Davis (CB, Auburn)

-After jettisoning Richard Sherman, the Seahawks would be hard-pressed to find a better replacement than the lengthy Davis.

 

  1. Cowboys: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)

-With Dez Bryant’s future beyond 2018 up in the air, the Cowboys are one of the most likely teams to draft a wide receiver in round one.

 

  1. Lions: Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)

-Many expect the Lions to draft a running back early, and some teams have the powerful Guice ahead of the much-ballyhooed Saquon Barkley on their draft boards.

 

  1. Bengals [from Bills]: Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)

-After upgrading the OT position by acquiring Cordy Glenn from Buffalo, the Bengals could choose to upgrade the guard position with Hernandez, whose nasty playing style is tailor-made for the AFC North.

 

  1. Bills [from Chiefs]: Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)

-Word has it the Bills love Jackson more than one of the other “big four” QB’s, and they might have to trade up to pick 14 or higher to nab him in this scenario.

 

  1. Rams: Marcus Davenport (EDGE, UT-San Antonio)

-Although very raw, Davenport is the kind of athletic freak Wade Phillips believes he can mold into something special.

 

  1. Panthers: D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)

-Moore tore up the Combine and he would give Cam Newton that second “run-after-the-catch” threat he needs outside of Christian McCaffrey.

 

  1. Titans: Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)

-With Quinton Spain’s contract expiring at the end of this season, Wynn, a perfect fit for new OC Matt LaFleur’s zone blocking system, would be tremendous value here.

 

  1. Falcons: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)

-After losing Dontari Poe in free agency, the Falcons could turn to Payne, who will likely provide an immediate replacement in run defense and added upside as a pass rusher.

 

  1. Saints: Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)

-If the Saints are unable to land Ndamukong Suh and are satisfied with Hurst’s medical re-checks before the draft, they would be wise to add the latter’s elite get-off to their pass rush.

 

  1. Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)

-With Ryan Shazier sidelined for the entirety of 2018 and his playing future in question, the Steelers are expected by many to target the speedy, instinctive Vander Esch if he falls into their lap.

 

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

-McGlinchey is the old-school tackle that fits best in the Jaguars run-oriented offense and would be the ideal bookend to Cam Robinson.

 

  1. Vikings: Billy Price (G/C, Ohio State)

-After giving $84 million in full guarantees to Kirk Cousins, the Vikings have to beef up his protection and what better way to do so than an NFL reunion between Price and his college teammate Pat Elflein.

 

  1. Patriots: Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)

-Hubbard is the kind of blue-collar player Bill Belichick covets, and he will likely get rave reviews on Hubbard from his good friend and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.

 

  1. Eagles: Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)

-With Michael Bennett indicted on felony charges, the Eagles would be super smart to add the raw, but promising Bryan to their talented defensive line rotation.

 

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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