It’s usually said because of a bout of excitement, but this year things are lining up to have this actually be the greatest draft ever. They say everything is bigger in Texas, well, tonight’s first round in Dallas may just be the biggest opening round in NFL history.
Most of the time at this point in the draft process you can break down the Top 10 with a fare degree of comfort, but not this year. It’s widely regarded that four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen) could all go within the first five picks.
If that is to happen, the Browns would have to trade down from the fourth overall pick. But even if Cleveland doesn’t trade down, Denver (at No. 5) and Indianapolis (at No. 6) have both announced they are willing to trade down.
So, if all these teams are willing to trade down that means teams are willing to trade up. Who are they? Buffalo already moved a lot of capital to get to No. 12, Arizona has publicly said they will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a quarterback, and then you have Baltimore and Miami as dark horse candidates.
But there is a second issue that arises from a (probable) run on quarterbacks and that is a wealth of talented players at other positions being pushed down the board. Because of this reaction to the (probable) run on quarterbacks, teams like Green Bay are now incentivized to move up to get their skill position players.
It’s all crazy, it’s all fun. Tonight should be an all timer in NFL draft history and I can’t wait. So lets stop talking about scenarios and actually look at how things could break down. Here is the final mock draft of the 2018 NFL draft season…
1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
(Rd 2: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma; Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest)
I’m just going to come out and say it…I don’t have a lot of confidence in this pick. Not a great way to start a mock draft, but it had to be said. It’s certainly down to Darnold, Allen, and Mayfield. It’s just a matter of preference. The Browns should select Darnold, but as proven time and time again — the Browns are gonna Brown.
2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
(Rd 2: James Daniels, C, Iowa)
The only way Barkley doesn’t go here is if Darnold falls to them and even then I still have a hard time seeing the Giants select a quarterback. The team still believes in Eli Manning and adding Barkley takes a lot off of Manning’s shoulders.
3.) New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Again, Mayfield could go first overall and throw this whole mock draft off, but as I see it Mayfield is the pick here. Like the Browns pick, it’s a matter of preference. Here they will be looking at Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen.
4.) Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
(Rd 2: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.)
This is a matter of best player available. The Browns certainly could take calls from teams looking to trade up, but it’s hard to ignore a player who has racked up 46.5 tackles-for-loss and 20 sacks over the past two seasons.
5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
(Rd 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado)
This is the point in the draft where we could really see our first trade of the night take place with either the Bills or Cardinals making the move. I can see the Bills making the jump, but even if Denver stays I think Allen is the pick here.
6.) Indianapolis Colts: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
(Rd 2: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; Sony Michel, RB, Georgia; Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M)
The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under the new Frank Reich regime. With that they need someone who can lead their new look defense and fly sideline to sideline. Smith is that man. He ended his college career with over 130 tackles and 6.5 sacks. That is production the Colts haven’t seen in a long time.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
(Rd 2: Austin Corbett, OT/OG, Nevada)
Fitzpatrick is cursed by his versatility. A tremendous asset, but tricky when it comes to finding a role. He could slide, but for our final mock draft Fitzpatrick stays in the Top 10. Tampa finished last in passing defense last year. That’s a need that has to be addressed quickly when facing Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan twice a year.
8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama)
Last year the Bears moved up to get their man Mitch Trubisky, now they have to protect their asset. Nelson is a 10-year starter who can take the field on Day One. With the college game becoming more and more dedicated to the spread offense, the development of offensive lineman has suffered. Nelson is a rare prospect nowadays.
9.) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
(Rd 2: Arden Key, DE, LSU)
The Niners selected Reuben Foster in the first round last year and due to severe off-field issues GM John Lynch has already announced that Foster could potentially be released. Edmunds not only addresses a need, but allows the Niners to wash their hands of the Foster mess.
10.) Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas)
Look crazy? That’s because it is. The draft class is very obviously thin at the tackle position and in years past teams would wait to take a tackle, but this year it looks like the opposite happens. McGlinchey, could start Day One on the right side before taking over for veteran Donald Penn on the left side in his second year.
11.) Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
(Rd 2: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.)
This is a dream come true for the Dolphins. Now, a team could very well trade up to fourth overall and select Rosen there or maybe he goes third to the Jets. But for this mock draft (which doesn’t mock trades) Rosen falls into the laps of the Dolphins.
12.) Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
(Rd 2: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon)
The slide stops for Ward. Don’t get me wrong, Ward is an immensely talented cornerback who is just scratching the surface of his talent, but slides happen every year. Remember fellow Buckeye Malik Hooker dropped last year? Ward lands in a great spot though and will form a formidable pairing with last year’s first-round pick Tre’Davious White.
13.) Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
(Rd 2: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU)
This isn’t the pick I would like to see happen, but something in my gut says it could happen. The Redskins have been really doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft with Guice getting the most attention. I’d like to see Vita Vea go here, but alas Guice is the pick.
14.) Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
(Rd 2: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia)
Hughes comes with some baggage off the field, if the Packers feel comfortable with things, they add a much needed piece on defense. He’s a bit raw, as last year was his lone year starting, but he turned in a quality campaign with four interceptions and 11 passes broken up.
15.) Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
(Rd 2: Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.)
Similar to Hughes, Vander Esch is a one year wonder and what a year it was. As a redshirt junior, Vander Esch tallied 141 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. The Cardinals are switching to a 4-3 defense and need a traditional linebacker to man the middle.
16.) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Rd 2: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma)
I have had Jackson all over the board in my mock drafts and I keep coming back to the Ravens. Joe Flacco looks to be on the back nine of his career, but with his presence it allows Jackson to sit and develop behind him. Jackson is the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. If he puts it together, he could be special.
17.) LA Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
(Rd 2: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford)
James is a wild card. He could go Top 10, he could fall to the Chargers. If he does fall, he falls into a perfect situation. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley helped build the Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense. If LA can bring in a Kam Chancellor-type of safety, as Derwin has been compared, nobody knows how to utilize his talents better than Bradley.
18.) Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is a raw prospect, but offers so much potential. He lived in the backfield his last two years at UT-San Antonio, racking up 27 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks. With Seattle having lost Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and Malik McDowell this offseason and Cliff Avril nearing the end of his career an injection of youth is needed
19.) Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
(Rd 2: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.)
I know, I know. Every mock draft says the Cowboys will take a wide receiver and if Vita Vea goes earlier than this, I promise you they will. But if Vea manages to slide this far down the draft, the Cowboys will have no choice, but to take him. Vea is a Top 10 talent, but because this draft is going to be so crazy, this has the possibility of happening.
20.) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
(Rd 2: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia)
Everything here screams Landry. The Lions need more of a pass rushing options than just Ziggy Ansah. Not to mention new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni coached Landry at BC. Paired with Ansah, Landry has the ability to get back to his 2016 self when he racked up 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
(Rd 2: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.)
The Bengals offensive line had been a mess for a few years, then they let veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth walk via free agency last offseason. Needless to say things got worse. Hernandez, is an absolute road grader who can stabilize the line.
22.) Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
(Rd 2: Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.)
If the Bills can’t make the trade up to the fifth overall pick, Rudolph becomes their man. It may be a reach, but there are few teams as desperate for a quarterback as the Bills. They did sign A.J. McCarron, but that’s not enough.
23.) New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
(Rd 2: Rasheem Greene, DE, USC)
Evans is the versatile linebacking option the Patriots sorely missed when Dont’a Hightower went down with an injury and was lost for the season. Most importantly Evans has the speed to cover running backs and tight ends, another quality their linebacking corps has missed for a few years now.
24.) Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
(Rd 2: Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio St.)
Moore broke out in 2017, recording 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with a stellar combine and the arrow has been pointing up ever since. The Panthers have had a dearth of weapons for Cam Newton to utilize and then traded away Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline last year. Moore will be a welcomed addition.
25.) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
(Rd 2: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa)
I’ve had this pick penciled in before, erased it, and now have come back to it. The Titans are in a tricky spot. They need an inside linebacker badly and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up and take one of the top four options (there is a considerable drop off in talent after that). But if Jackson does come off the board here, it would be with the intention to move him to safety.
26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
(Rd 2: Connor Williams, OT/OG, Texas)
The Falcons lost veteran Dontari Poe via free agency and now have big shoes to fix. Atlanta already has a budding playmaker in Grady Jarrett and now need to pair him with a big body to close the running lanes. Payne was built just for that.
27.) New Orleans Saints: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton has been rising up draft boards steadily throughout the process and understandably so. There simply aren’t a lot of receivers who have Sutton’s size, foot work, and ball skills. In back-to-back seasons Sutton went over the 1,000 yard mark and brought in a combined 22 touchdowns.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
(Rd 2: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia)
For years now, the Steelers have been pouring high draft capital into their defense and yet they have still failed to fix the problem. At safety former-second round pick Sean Davis has failed to be consistent and Mike Mitchell was released. Reid, improved considerably each year and capped off his college career with five picks.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
(Rd 2: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama)
Some people have Hurst going higher, but I can’t see a team using too high a draft pick on a prospect who will be 25 years old at the start of the season. That being said, Hayden is arguably the best prospect at his position.
30.) Minnesota Vikings: Frank Ragnow, OG, Arkansas
(Rd 2: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan)
When veteran Joe Berger retired earlier this spring, it left a glaring hole along the teams offensive line. Ragnow, could be a Day One starter and offers versatility, having also played center for the Razorbacks.
31.) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
(Rd 2: Ronald Jones, RB, USC)
After veteran left tackle Nate Solder left for the Giants via free agency, left tackle became the teams most pressing need. Miller has the height, length, and footwork to succeed on the edge in the NFL, but comes with some injury concerns. If Miller can stay healthy and continue to improve on a impressive 2017 campaign, Tom Brady will be happy.
32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champs had the 17th ranked pass defense last year and then lost three players at cornerback. That’s not a good combination. Alexander, has his medical concerns, but his playmaking ability is unmistakable. He has the speed and swagger to succeed on the outside in the NFL, but may start out as a nickle corner.
54.) Kansas City Chiefs: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU