The 2018 NFL Draft presents an interesting group of quarterbacks at a time when many franchises are in need of a starter – and others are beginning to look to the future at the position. The resulting action from that alone should make Thursday night compelling, but we also get to see how franchises adjust their approach to a first round that is light on offensive tackle and edge rush talent.
This was a fun year to mock, with a lot of intriguing team-player fits to explore. As usual, no trades are projected. Be sure to check out Walter Football for more great mock drafts.
1. Cleveland Browns – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
There is zero public clarity at the top of the draft, so I’m betting on Allen based on perceived long-term potential. The Tyrod bridge gives Cleveland the opportunity to develop Allen behind the scenes during the 2018 season.
2. New York Giants – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
As laughable as the Giants 2017 season was, the team has too much talent to end up this high in the draft in the coming years. Pick the Eli successor now and figure out the rest later.
3. New York Jets (from Colts) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
After selecting a long-term QB project at one, the Browns grab an immediate contributor – and the best player in the draft – at four. Tyrod, Barkley, Landry, Gordon, and Njoku would form a strong skill position group.
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
6. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets) – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
9. San Francisco 49ers – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
This feels high for Wynn, but I see him as a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. The team’s main draft priority should be improving the offensive talent around Jimmy G.
10. Oakland Raiders – Derwin James, S, Florida State
11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
12. Buffalo Bills (from Bengals) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
13. Washington – Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DL, Washington
18. Seattle Seahawks – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
19. Dallas Cowboys – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
20. Detroit Lions – Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
This pick came down to Carter, Mo Hurst, and Da’Ron Payne. Red flags for each player aside (Carter: rawness, Hurst: medical, Payne: productivity), two things sealed the deal for Carter. One is the fact that he scored a perfect 10.00 on Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score metric, meaning he is the most athletic player by that composite measure out of 1,479 linebackers going all the way back to 1987. It’s unusual to have that caliber of an athlete sitting around at twenty. The second factor is a gut feeling gained after watching Matt Patricia run drills at the Georgia pro day. The look in his eyes watching Carter is one of amazement, and you can see his wheels spinning around how he would teach, mold, and deploy such a unique prospect.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Bills) – James Daniels, C, Iowa
I’m seeing a lot of Bengals-Frank Ragnow connections, but Daniels would likely be a better fit for the volume of reach blocks that will be required in the team’s new blocking scheme.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs) – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Without trades, it’s tough to pair the Bills with the signal caller they will more than likely leave Thursday night with. It seems they’re gravitating toward a prototypical pocket passer type and find that here in Rudolph.
23. New England Patriots (from Rams) – Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
24. Carolina Panthers – Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
25. Tennessee Titans – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
27. New Orleans Saints – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Despite being a fan of Hernandez’s game, most of the guard-needy teams picking earlier run zone and I couldn’t find a great fit for him. His power blocking prowess would be perfect in Jacksonville, paving roads for Leonard Fournette.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
If the hero image on this page didn’t clue you in already, I LOVE Mo Hurst. He’s one of the most disruptive college players I’ve ever watched and could (and should) go much higher than this. His fall in this scenario comes after news that he’s been removed from a handful of teams’ boards (and accordingly dropped in Mayock’s usually-telling rankings).