NFL Mock DraftBy Nicholas Volinchak
2018 NFL Mock Draft
Outside of the start of the season and the bowl games, NFL Draft season is the best part of college football. While many look at it as an NFL activity, I do not. I look at it as the final step a player takes in college. I love seeing where my favorite collegiate athletes end up. I also like working like a general manager in doing my NFL mock draft.
When I do my mock drafts, I do my best to do them based off of both the need of the team and what I think the head office will actually do.
I do not want to take too much time with preamble, so lets get to the mock draft!
Pick #1 – Cleveland Browns select Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State University
Incidently, this is the biggest question mark in my opinion, though it really should not be. Reports indicate that John Dorsey is fixated on Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who Dorsey believes to be Carson Wentz reincarnate. Wentz is still alive, for what it is worth.
Personal opinions about this year’s quarterbacks aside, there is a much thinner separation between all of them than between Barkley and the next back. He is a generational talent in what he brings to the game. He is a true three down back, and he profiles out to be better than both Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott, the darlings at the position over the last two drafts.
Cleveland is likely to still be able to get a quarterback at pick #4, so I do not think they will pass on Barkley here.
Pick #2 – New York Giants select Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Even though the Giants took Davis Webb in the 2017 draft, he was not an early pick. The new regime will stay in the state of California for their next quarterback pick in Rosen.
It would be hard to believe Rosen going at the top barring a trade based on John Dorsey’s feelings on him. That leaves it open to the Giants to bring him in to be the heir to Eli Manning. Over the last few seasons, Manning looks like a man who has very little left in the tank.
Rosen would likely get one season with Eli to learn from. It would do him well. Rosen has been identified as someone who does not care what he says, and some question his actual passion about the game. He shows enough talent on the field to give him the nod as the #2 pick this year.
Pick #3 – Indianapolis Colts select Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If there is any pick that is likely to be traded come draft time, I would imagine this would be it. It is likely, at least, to be the highest traded pick. This could be a year where teams value the quarterbacks similar to the 2011 draft where an insane number were taken in the top 15. The reason is that the draft the year before was so underwhelming ( 2010 – Bradford/Tebow; 2017 – Trubisky/Watson/Mahomes).
If the Colts do keep this pick, it is highly likely that they go defense. A lot of this does depend on the health of Andrew Luck. There are reports out there that his health might be worse than it is being led on. If he is not going to be healthy and the team does not believe in Brissett, that shakes up the draft.
Otherwise, Chubb, who I believe is the top defensive prospect in this draft, should go here. He is highly athletic, and will give the Colts the first defensive playmaker on the defensive side of the ball since I do not remember when.
Pick #4 – Cleveland Browns select Sam Darnold, QB, USC
I have released three mock drafts, and all three have different players going at 4. It started with Josh Allen, moved to Arden Key, and now sits at Sam Darnold.
Truthfully, if one quarterback in this class has the it factor, it is certainly Darnold. While he does have enough that makes me really hesitant to want to give him too much credit, he is far better than Deshone Kizer and does set the Browns up to win, especially if they make good moves in free agency.
Although the Browns have been linked to Josh Allen, I think John Dorsey knows it would be foolish to draft him here when there are better quarterbacks available. Allen is going to be a project wherever he ends up. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they cannot afford to take a QB who needs that much development. Even if they do land someone like Alex Smith, they need someone who can be available to play sooner rather than later.
Pick #5 – Denver Broncos select Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Broncos took Paxton Lynch in the 2016 draft. Thus far, he looks like a complete and total bust. He is not Christian Hackenberg level bust, but it has been bad. He was crying on the bench at one point. Real life tears, not pouting.
They also took a chance with Chad Kelly last year, but he was more of a developmental project. The Broncos actually have a lot of pieces in place on offense to help a young quarterback. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are a great 1-2 punch, and C.J. Anderson has showed he can handle a big load that they will never give him.
I had Sam Darnold here previously, but with the Broncos coaching staff wanting to coach Mayfield in the Senior Bowl speaks volumes. There is a chance they think he might be a day 2 pick, but otherwise, it would not shock me to see Mayfield go in the top 5, specifically to Denver.
Pick #6 – New York Jets select Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is another guy who has moved around quite a bit in our mock drafts. Before his move to the Jets, we had him at the pick below to the Buccaneers. While that would have made sense, this might a little more sense.
The Jets defense is not what it used to be. Gone are the days of Darrelle Revis. This team was able to be attacked with relative ease through the air, and they need to fix that if they want to contend with Tom Brady. Even if he is aging, he is still the best in the division and they have to play him twice a year.
Fitzpatrick resembles Jalen Ramsey a lot in terms of where he ends up actually playing in the NFL. Regardless, he is a ball-hawk who should be able to be a difference maker from training camp to the last snap of the season.
Pick #7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Arden Key, DE/DL, LSU
Key now finds himself landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which actually works out really well for him and the team. He makes a great linemate for Gerald McCoy. The two of them should instantly be able to put pressure on quarterbacks.
Key could see his stock fall as a result of poorer play than the previous year, as well as injury. Fortunately for him, we have yet to make it to the pro day and combine process, so he has plenty of time to make his case to NFL evaluators.
Pick #8 – Chicago Bears select Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Crimson Tide get back-to-back selections here with Ridley as the first receiver off the board. While I think Courtland Sutton might be a better overall prospect, I will not argue with Ridley’s upside.
He has been one of the cogs of a dominant Alabama team over the last three years, including a National Championship.
This pick does not really need defended, as the Bears receiving unit is likely the worst in all of the NFL. They were without their number one receiver in Cameron Meredith this year, but he has not shown a history of dominance by any stretch. Ridley could come in and immediately give Mitch Trubisky a reliable option to throw to.
Pick #9 – San Francisco 49ers select Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
I considered putting Courtland Sutton here, as I think the Niners need another receiver. I am a believer in the grouping of Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and George Kittle, but it is still missing something.
I opted to go with a guard as I think that the best quarterback in the world, Jimmy Garappolo, needs a little more protection. Nelson is viewed very positively and could well be a stud for years to come at his position.
Pick #10 – Oakland Raiders select Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
One time, we thought that Raiders defense was good. By the end of 2017, though, that notion is long gone. They looked bad in every facet of the game.
I would expect that the Raiders will spend a pick on the best defensive talent that is on the board. That is where they are at defensively. They need help basically everywhere, so whoever falls to them is where they go.
Payne is absolutely dominant, and I believe as things progress in the draft process, he might contest Bradley Chubb as the top defensive player. I would say that he could make a day one impact for this defense.
Here is something interesting: there is a chance, a slim one, that Jon Gruden could opt to convince management to move on from Derek Carr. Rumors are that he is not a big fan, and Gruden is a disruptor to get his way.
Pick #11 – Miami Dolphins select Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Dolphins were awful defensively and were an easy attack for opposing passing offenses. They will look to correct that early in the draft.
Jackson has become a valued prospect and many believe he has the talent to be a top cornerback for years to come.
I think he will be the first at his position to come off the board.
Pick #12 – Cincinnati Bengals select Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Bengals offensive line was awful in 2017. What do you expect when you move on from both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, otherwise known as the left side of your line. It stunted the running game, which took about 13 weeks to do anything at all.
McGlinchey is the top tackle prospect in this year’s draft, and I think Cincinnati will realize that Andy Dalton is only tolerable when he has a strong offensive line. This would also go a long way to help Joe Mixon, who they selected in the 2017 edition of the draft.
Pick #13 – Washington Redskins select Vita Vea, NT, Washington
The Washington run stop was non-existent this year. They were a target in fantasy matchups and teams game planned to exploit it. The team did deal with a ton of injuries, but they still were not good.
Vea looked very good in their bowl game, and I think he would be a great option for the Redskins here. He would provide a steady and able body up front with a ton of talent and strength to reduce the negative effect of opposing rushing attacks.
Pick #14 – Green Bay Packers select Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Thus far, Smith has looked awesome this year, and was a big part of how Georgia was able to beat Oklahoma in the opening round of the playoffs. I actually think this is lower than he should go, but it is a likely landing spot.
Clay Matthews is a personality as opposed to a highly effective football player. No, he is not awful, but he is a large part of why this defense was so bad this year.
Bringing Smith in brings in a ton of athleticism and youth, something they need at the position. He would be a game changer in year one.
Pick #15 – Arizona Cardinals select Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I said last week that I thought about putting a QB here for the Cardinals.
This time, I did. With the Browns not taking Allen in the draft, this seems like a far more realistic landing place for him. He will have, assumedly, a strong receiver in Larry Fitzgerald to learn from and a dynamic back in David Johnson to work with.
The Cardinals could easily go this route in the draft. The team will need to do something with Carson Palmer retiring.
Pick #16 – Baltimore Ravens select Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Mike Wallace has been nice for the Ravens, but he is a situational receiver, a deep threat, and not someone who can be a possession receiver.
Sutton can. In my opinion, Sutton is the best receiver in the draft. He was outshined a bit by Trey Quinn this year, but he was still the top dog on the team.
It is tough to know what to make of Joe Flacco with the Ravens moving forward, but giving him the help of Sutton should make some kind of a difference.
Pick #17 – Los Angeles Chargers select Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Some will say this is too high, and I will not necessarily disagree. What I would absolutely say is that the Chargers have at least some ability to draft for want instead of need.
The offensive line play has been better than in years past this year, but it can still need help. Miller played very well down the stretch, and he would be a welcomed addition to the squad.
As Philip Rivers gets older, more and more emphasis has to be put on keeping him upright and healthy. Miller could be key to that.
Pick #18 – Seattle Seahawks select Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
I had Arden Key here last week, but one week made a huge difference for him.
Instead, I could see Ward going here. The Seahawks are only a good defense in your mind, and they were awful by the end of the season. They will need to put some new pieces in place to bring it back to the point of respectability.
Ward is a good corner who is likely not the top in the class, but is close. He should be an immediate difference maker.
Pick #19 – Dallas Cowboys select Derwin James, S, Florida State
I think it is safe to say that most people do not have James this low or going to the Cowboys. I am not sure it is the highest need, but I do not see Jerry & company passing on the potential that James has.
Dallas has solid safeties, but they are not spectacular. I would go as far to say that James is an upgrade on both. As a result, I do not think this is as much of a stretch.
Dallas still needs help defensively to get to the next level in the playoffs, and I think this is a good start.
Pick #20 – Detroit Lions select Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Lions pass rush is awful. It has been a weakness for a while now, and they need to work hard at getting it situated if they expect this team to move into the playoffs.
Hubbard is a guy who I could see going in the top 15 of this draft pending a strong off-season program. This draft has lost 4 potential first round talents in the last ten days, so that surely opens up the door some high talented players to move up.
There is a lot to like with Hubbard. He has a strong base, good hands and knows how to get to the ball. He really impressed me down the stretch and looked amazing in the bowl game against USC. He would fit in really well with the Lions and he could end up being what gets them to the playoffs next year or not.
Pick #21 – Buffalo Bills select Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Jackson could end up being the top dog of this draft. Have I said that about a quarterback in the draft yet? That is because I really believe the margin in talent is so thin.
The Bills do not seem to really believe in Tyrod Taylor. Nathan Peterman was a disaster on the field.
Jackson has a better arm and better legs than Taylor, forcing me to believe that this team will look to him in the draft early in 2018.
Pick #22 – Buffalo Bills select Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Buffalo will need some help in the offseason to improve a poor defensive backfield. We saw them get picked on quite a bit over the course of the year, so I expect them to try to fix that in the draft.
Oliver is a solid prospect that could end up being a value being chosen where they would be taking him.
Pick #23 – Los Angeles Rams select Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Interestingly, this team had just about everything, so I would be about building more reserves for that defense.
I think their cornerback room could use another talent in it. They were exposed at times throughout the year, so adding another high talent could go a long way in making this team a Super Bowl contender in 2018.
Pick #24 – Carolina Panthers select Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
I know that the Panthers could use some defensive line help, but it is hard to not look at their wild-card round loss and say they do not need another receiver. They got rid of Kelvin Benjamin and decided Devin Funchess was a #1. That is a stretch. Curtis Samuel never got healthy and Kaelin Clay is limited in what he can do.
Kirk is a playmaker that will open things up for the rest of the offense. With he and Christian McCaffrey on the field, Cam will have two high-level playmakers, to go along with Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess in a better role.
I think he is being slept on right now and he is easily one of my favorites in the draft.
Pick #25 – Tennessee Titans select Billy Price, C, Ohio State
I expect huge things from Derrick Henry next year, and a lot of it is because I do think that the Titans will work to improve the interior of their offensive line.
Price, who went to high school less than 5 minutes from where I live, makes a ton of sense from a salary cap perspective. He should be able to both allow the Titans to move on from overpaid assets and give them an improved talent at the position.
Pick #26 – Atlanta Falcons select Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
The Falcons are actually a team that is pretty well put together, but if nothing else, the team will look to add some more versatile depth to their linebacking room.
Over the course of the year, the Falcons were susceptible to pass catching backs. While Landry will do best coming off the edge, I do think he will be able to drop into coverage and should help the team improve in this area.
Pick #27 – Pittsburgh Steelers select Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
I initially had the Steelers taking Baker Mayfield. One year under Ben Roethlisberger could go a long way.
Since I moved him up, I thought about Lamar Jackson, but then I mocked him to the Jets.
As a result, the Steelers end up with Vander Esch, who should be an absolute stud this year. If you watch his film throughout the year, but especially in the Las Vegas Bowl, you will see what kind of talent we are talking about.
Pick #28 – New Orleans Saints select Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Both Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor have been awesome this year for the Saints. Unfortunately, Okafor is slated to be a free agent in the offseason. If they could not keep him around, I think that is where they will go in the draft.
This may be a situation where the pro day and combine performances may move him up significantly. Otherwise, Davenport would be a great fit in the Saints organization.
Pick #29 – Jacksonville Jaguars select Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
I really want to put a quarterback to the Jaguars here, but I will not. The Jaguars could use a little more depth in the defensive backfield.
Jalen Ramsey is awesome, and A.J. Bouye is very good as well.
Outside of that, they need to have more to bring in.
This team is very close to being a very, very, very scary team, and this is one of those moves that gets them closer.
Pick #30 –Minnesota Vikings select Maurice Hurst, DE/DT, Michigan
The Vikings are tough to read. They could use some cornerback help, mainly outside of Xavier Rhodes. I really could see them going best player available, but otherwise, I like the upside of Hurst.
Linval Joseph was the only highly impressive interior threat for this team, so I think this makes the Vikings an even more dangerous team.
I will be updating this on a weekly basis. I will probably add round two next week and so on and so forth.
Pick #31 – Philadelphia Eagles select Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
I wanted to draft a running back for the Eagles, because that is what they always do. Just when you think they have their back of the future, they draft (or trade for) another one.
There is a real concern to be had by the Eagles that Lane Johnson will never be back at 100%, if he is back at all. They need to do something in case that happens.
Pick #32 – New England Patriots select Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma
Bryce Love goes back to Stanford, so I will give the Patriots some defensive help here. They need it. Even though this defense came on as the year progressed, there were still some pretty clear holes that will need fixed.
Okoronkwo is a bad dude who could really cause some damage in the right system. That is the big question here. We are in one of the most uncertain times of the year, so it is tough to say if Matt Patricia will be back in Foxboro next year. If he is, I think that bodes well for his usefulness.