2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Browns, Cardinals, Jets and Bills Take a QB
With just three weeks away until the 2018 NFL Draft, excitement for the next generation of NFL players is at an all-time high and the countdown to Dallas is alive.
From the Browns making significant moves during the off-season, to the Patriots notching two first-round picks, this draft will be extremely interesting from top to bottom.
Below is my 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0:
1. Cleveland Browns - Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
With the addition of Tyrod Taylor, the Browns can rest easy for the first couple weeks as Sam Darnold learns the system and eventually develops into a starting quarterback. Darnold is by far the best quarterback in the draft and will look to fill in one of the biggest needs for the Browns.
Working with quarterback coach and former UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer, Darnold is learning to be more precise with his passes and has been a highly sought out quarterback by the Browns.
2. New York Giants - Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
Is it too soon to crown Saquon Barkley as the Rookie of the Year for the 2018-19 season? He's by far the best offensive player in the draft and with the addition of Jonathan Stewart, the Giants' running back group could be among the best in the league.
Instead of going with a new gunslinger, the Giants take a chance at the running back spot and could possibly draft a quarterback in the later rounds. Eli Manning's job is safe... for now.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis) - Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
The Jets are sporting four quarterbacks in Teddy Bridgewater, the re-signing of Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but there still is a lingering need for a true franchise quarterback.
Drafting Josh Rosen could help solve the quarterback problem, and Rosen could be the go-to starter for the Jets by mid-season.
4. Buffalo Bills (mock trade with Cleveland from Houston) - Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
There's not a team that needs a quarterback more than the Buffalo Bills, especially after trading away Tyrod Taylor this off-season. The Bills are desperate, so they trade early for a quarterback, but expect a lot in return for the Browns in this one.
Josh Allen could be the best arm the Bills have at quarterback in years and can possibly lead them further than just a 10-3 loss to the Jaguars in the playoffs.
5. Denver Broncos - Bradley Chubb (DE, N.C. State)
While Barkley is the best offensive weapon in the draft, Bradley Chubb is hands down the best defensive weapon in the draft. Chubb is the best pass rusher available and his demand will be high. There's no way he makes it out of the top-5 in the draft and Denver picks up the best available player with this choice.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) - Quenton Nelson (OT, Notre Dame)
Some NFL analysts have labeled Quenton Nelson as the best lineman to go into the draft in years. Nelson is powerful, has broad shoulders and wide hips, which makes him a threat on the line. Expect him to play significant minutes this year and do some decent work for the Colts.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Alabama)
The disparity that the Bucs have in the secondary makes Minkah Fitzpatrick a no-brainer draft pick for Tampa Bay. Because of his versitality, Fitzpatrick can play either corner or safety for the Bucs.
8. Chicago Bears - Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
Tremaine Edmunds might be the draft's best linebacker and the Bears don't pass up on the talent at the eighth overall pick. Expect Chicago to look for utlity players in the second and third round instead of the first.
9. San Francisco 49ers - Derwin James (S, Florida State)
Derwin James is a hit-or-miss in the draft. He easily has top-10 draft pick caliber in his play, and instead of picking a risky draft pick, the 49ers play it safe with a strong addition to San Francisco's secondary with James.
10. Oakland Raiders - Denzel Ward (DB, Ohio State)
Oakland's top priority in the draft is to get the strongest available secondary player to help the team in its inefficiency in creating turnovers. Defensive back Denzel Ward is a spark plug in terms of athleticism, which the Raiders will not be able to pass up on.
11. Miami Dolphins - Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
No, it's not Baker Mayfield at No. 11, and Miami stays safe in this pick. Roquan Smith, who converted from wide receiver to linebacker in college, is a agile prospect in the draft and Miami won't go wrong if they pick him.
12. Cleveland Browns (mock trade with Buffalo from Cincinnati) - Connor Williams (OT, Texas)
Conor Willliams from UT deserves to go high in the draft due to his top-of-the-line footwork and his leadership capabilities. In this mock trade with the Bills, the Browns stick with a lineman to fill the void of Joe Thomas on the offensive front.
13. Washington Redskins - Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
Put a guard that weighs less than Vita Vea and he will power through them. The Redskins need a lot of things on defense, one being a run-stopper. Vea can power through lineman and is a tough defensive player to run through.
14. Green Bay Packers - Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)
A former teammate of Nelson, Mike McGlinchey is a sizable, athletic interior lineman that will create some good holes for runners like Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams of the Packers. No, it won't be Will Hernandez, but a lineman addition at No. 14 can boost Hernandez higher in the draft. Miner fans should hope as many linemen go as early as possible.
15. Arizona Cardinals - Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
No, Sam Bradford isn't the answer to replace Carson Palmer at quarterback—even though his $20 million contract suggests otherwise. If the Cardinals take Baker Mayfield, who's climbing up on the draft charts, they might not sign Bradford after a year and make Mayfield their franchise quarterback.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
Despite his sub-par NFL Combine performance, Calvin Ridley is still the most NFL ready receiver in the draft. He's got good speed as a target and is a strong route runner. The Ravens desperately need more wideout targets and Ridley can be the man for them.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Orlando Brown (OT, Oklahoma)
Orlando Brown could be one of the most underrated linemen in the draft and can help the Chargers run game down the line. Instead of getting someone on defense, the Chargers wait until the later rounds and pick up a lineman in the first.
18. Seattle Seahawks - Harold Landry (ILB, Boston College)
Harold Landry is easily one step below Chubb as the draft's next-best pass rusher. At Boston College, he set the school single-season record with 16.5 sacks in 2016. The Seahawks needs some depth at defense, and instead of getting a secondary member, they go with a linebacker in the first.
19. Dallas Cowboys - Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
As much as Cowboy fans want an explosive talent that rolls off as a sexy draft pick, Dallas needs a lot of depth at defense. Da'Ron Payne is everything a team wants to help out stopping the run, and this experienced defensive lineman is what the Cowboys need. Expect Dallas to look in the second or third round for a tight end or a receiver.
20. Detroit Lions - Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
Maurice Hurst is the only defensive tackle under 300 pounds worth drafting in the first round. Although the Lions are practically begging for a running back in the first round, there will still be quality tailbacks left for them to grab in the third round, especially with a strong running back class that this year has.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo) - Will Hernandez (OG, UTEP)
Here it is: Will Hernandez, the former UTEP standout lineman, will find his next home in Cincinnati. The Bengals have all sorts of needs, especially at the offensive line and at the linebacker spot. Even though they acquired tackle Cordy Glenn, the Bengals still need to add another option on the line, which Hernandez will fill. Maybe Cincinnati might not be the most star-studded option for Hernandez, but a player like him has the potential to be a quiet killer and could reap post-season honors for his efforts.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) - Rashaan Evans (ILB, Alabama)
A lot of teams really like the way Rashaan Evans plays the linebacker spot, which makes him a desired pick late in the first round. He could land anywhere, from the Patriots, to the Eagles, to the Bills. Evans fits in Buffalo for one main reason: he embodies the newest hybrid of speed linebackers and deserves to be in the lower-20's in the draft.
23. New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams) - Leighton Vander Esch (ILB, Boise St.)
On the contrary to Evans, Leighton Vander Esch plays more of a traditional, Tedy Bruschi type of linebacker. Due to his promising off-season and his strong Combine outing, Vander Esch is climbing up draft boards and New England should fill their need at linebacker by drafting him at 23.
24. Carolina Panthers - Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
Speed, speed and more speed. That's what you get if you draft Mike Hughes, a corner out of UCF that is able to create big turnovers. Although Carolina does need a receiver, there will be good caliber talent at the wideout position in the second and third round for them to capitalize on.
25. Tennessee Titans - Billy Price (C/OT, Ohio State)
Although the Titans defense is begging for more pass rushers, the Titans go with a safe bet on the line with Billy Price, who could very well be a make-or-break for Tennessee. If Price can bounce back from his injury he sustained in the off-season, he could develop into a good product on the line. However, if his left pectoral is still bothering him, it might limit his minutes this season and make him more of a product instead of immediate contribution.
26. Atlanta Falcons - Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
Taven Bryan is an on-the-fence first round prospect on the defensive line that embraces his potential. Bryan showed flashes of greatness in college, but it seems like he will truly flourish in the NFL. After Dontari Poe left for Carolina, the Falcons need to fill the gap at defensive tackle, so Bryan would be a top fit.
27. New Orleans Saints - DJ Moore (WR, Maryland)
All this off-season DJ Moore has been overlooked, but in some cases, this guy could be better than Ridley. If the Cowboys pass up on Moore at No. 19 and he falls to the bottom of the first, expect New Orleans to snatch him. Even though the Saints want a tight end, they still have an opportunity to draft one in the second or third round, and would get a receiver with a lot of potential in Moore.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers - Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
Here's a hot take: Le'Veon Bell doesn't fix his deal with the Steelers, forcing Pittsburgh to draft a running back. It's highly likely that Bell does return to Pittsburgh next year, but this time with a new weapon like Derrius Guice. Yes, the Steelers do need a linebacker early on, but why not get a big force at running back in the first round. Mike Tomlin himself watched Guice, which obviously shows the interest this team has with him.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
Blake Bortles and the offense needs to replace Allen Hurns, and after giving the franchise tag to Allen Robinson, the Jaguars cannot afford a high-profile veteran receiver. Getting Christian Kirk would be a prime addition for the Jags, especially if they use him as a Z-spot receiver. Kirk is quick on turns and angles, which NFL teams love.
30. Minnesota Vikings - Isaiah Wynn (OT/G/C, Georgia)
You can't go wrong getting a versatile lineman like Isaiah Wynn, who literally has done it all on the line at Georgia. It's not often you find a player like Wynn that has been a center, guard and a tackle and been successful. The Vikings can plug him wherever on the line to fill their needs at the offensive front.
31. New England Patriots - Josh Jackson (CB, Iowa)
As much as most would like to think New England gets a quarterback in the first round, they could easily grab a top gunslinger, like Luke Falk or Logan Woodside, in the third or fourth rounds. Nonetheless, they fill a much-needed spot at corner with Josh Jackson, who is versatile in the secondary and will do some good work defensively. New England fills their utility spots in the early rounds, and finds its diamonds in the rough in the later rounds of the draft.
32. Philadelphia Eagles - Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
With the loss of LeGarrette Blount in the off-season, the Eagles will likely supplement Jay Ajayi with a young back. Sony Michel has played on the highest stages of football and does impressive work on the ground. He's too good of a pick to pass off by Philadelphia at the last pick in the first round of the draft.