The 2018 NFL draft is looking to be one of the deepest drafts in recent NFL history. Here is my 1st round mock.
1.) Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB. Penn State
2017 stats: 13 games played. 217 car., 1,271 yds., 5.9 ypc., 97.8 ypg., 18 TD’s / 54 rec., 632 yds., 11.7 ypc., 3 TD’s / 15 kickoff returns, 426 yds., 28.4 ypr., 2 TD’s
I need you all to understand one simple thing. This team is in best player available mode. There are going to be deep in the free agent and trade market for a quarterback. Starting tailback Isaiah Crowell is slated to walk in free agency. After going 0-16, reaching for a quarterback that is clearly NOT the best player in the draft is a big no way and a huge risk to your franchise. The 2X Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is an absolute virtuoso and the best player in the NFL draft. Point blank. Period. Make it happen.
2.) New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB. UCLA
2017 stats: 11 games played. 282/451 passes, 62.5% completion, 3,717 yds., 8.4 ypa., 338 ypg., 26 TD’s, 10 INT’s
This young man is the most polished and NFL ready quarterback in the 2018 NFL draft. He should be in good hands, granted Eli Manning returns for a 14th NFL season. Learning from a 2X Super Bowl champion is always beneficial. Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is slated to be the team’s next head coach. However, how the soon to be 21-year old handles the ruthless New York media and their fan base will be very interesting to watch unfold over a season or two.
3.) Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE. North Carolina State
2017 stats: 12 games played. 72 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 pass breakups
This roster is one of the least talented rosters in the NFL. Outside of T. Y. Hilton, an aging Frank Gore, and an oft injured Andrew Luck, there are no stars. Enter Bradley Chubb. He is an absolute freak of an athlete and makes a living of getting to the quarterback. He would be an instant star and Day 1 starter with the Colts.
4.) Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/FS. Alabama University
2017 stats: 13 games played. 60 tackles, 7 pass breakups, 1 INT, 8 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
This guy is the best all around defensive back in the NFL draft. He exploded onto the scene last year when he had 7 INT’s. He excels at either cornerback or free safety. The Cleveland Browns have had epically bad defensive back play. The Browns’ secondary was lit on fire, especially by opposing tight ends who accounted for 89 receptions and 10 TD’s. Having a true free safety back there would help erase some of those big plays down the seam and would move Jabrill Peppers back to his original strong safety spot.
5.) Denver Broncos – Baker Mayfield, QB. Oklahoma
2017 stats: 14 games played. 285/404 passes, 70.5% completion, 4,627 yds., 11.5 ypa., 330.5 ypg., 43 TD’s, 6 INT’s / 97 car., 311 yds., 3.2 ypc., 22.1 ypg., 5 TD’s
Baker Mayfield was the best quarterback in college football this season. The current Heisman trophy winner has caught the attention of the entire country with his tremendous play and his sometimes outlandish behavior. However, he is a pinpoint accurate gunslinger who runs like the dickens. He could very easily challenge every QB on their roster for the Week 1 starting job. Quarterback is by far the Denver Broncos weakest link.
6.) New York Jets – Sam Darnold, QB. USC
2017 stats: 14 games played. 303/480 passes, 63.1% completion, 4,143 yds., 8.6 ypa., 296 ypg., 26 TD’s, 13 INT’s
A very physical and talented quarterback, he suffered major setbacks in 2017 due to poor ball control and bad decision making. Darnold accounted for 22 total turnovers (9 lost fumbles) last season. He’ll need to tweak his game and probably won’t be asked to start right away. The Jets have recently voiced wanting to parade the free agent waters for a quarterback.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Denzel Ward, CB. Ohio State
2017 stats: 11 games played. 37 tackles, 15 pass breakups, 2 INT’s, 2 tackles for loss
Denzel Ward is an outstanding corner. He excels heavily in man to man coverage and the best pure corner in the NFL draft. With Brent Grimes becoming a free agent, Vernon Hargreaves III battling injuries his first two seasons as a pro, and not having much depth at the position, Ward makes perfect sense here.
8.) Chicago Bears – Courtland Sutton, WR. Southern Methodist University
2017 stats: 13 games played. 68 rec., 1,205 yds., 16 ypc., 92.7 ypg., 12 TD’s
The 6’4″, 215 lbs. stud from Southern Methodist University continued to improve his route running and dazzled this season in an encore after his breakout season in 2016. A bonafide No. 1 receiver, Mitchell Trubisky and new head coach Matt Nagy would relish having a specimen like him to toy around with.
9.) Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, ILB. Georgia
2017 stats: 15 games played. 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
This guy is the real deal Holyfield. The heart and soul of Georgia’s elite defense will be an instant star in the Black hole. They are an absolute mess defensively and I know for certain that he is a Jon Gruden type of player. He can do literally everything.
10.) San Francisco 49ers – Quenton Nelson, G. Notre Dame
Nelson has been dominant on the left side and would serve as an upgrade for the interior of the 49ers’ offensive line. Jimmy Garopollo is their top priority so keeping him healthy and clean will be huge. Getting a legit No. 1 receiver would work here, also. However, they now have their eyes on the playoffs and the most cap space in the NFL. I expect them to bolster the WR corps in free agency first.
11.) Miami Dolphins – Harold Landry, OLB. Boston College
2017 stats: 8 games played. 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 pass breakups
An absolute BEAST in 2016 with 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 7 forced fumbles, Landry played most of 2017 injured. He still showed flashes of dominance and would be a crucial future replacement for Cameron Wake.
12.) Cincinnati Bengals – Orlando Brown, LT. Oklahoma
A 6’8″, 360 lbs. MONSTER on the left side, Orlando Brown Jr. would help rejuvenate an offensive line that was left for dead in 2017 with the departures of Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth.
13.) Washington Redskins – Derwin James, FS. Florida State
2017 stats: 12 games played. 84 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 2 INT’s, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Add Derwin James to the list of multi talented defensive backs from Florida State that went on to the NFL. James would instantly provide a spark to the Washington Redskins’ inconsistent and wavering defense.
14.) Green Bay Packers – Arden Key, OLB. LSU
2017 stats: 8 games played. 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble
The Packers don’t create much pressure with their front seven, outside of Clay Matthews III. Adding a guy like Key would not only give the Packers depth. It would give them a guy to build around defensively for the forseeable future.
15.) Arizona Cardinals – Mason Rudolph, QB. Oklahoma State
2017 stats: 13 games played. 318/489 passes, 65% completion, 4,904 yds., 10 ypa., 377.2 ypg., 37 TD’s, 9 INT’s
All of 6’5″ and 235 lbs., the very strong and sturdy pocket passer Mason Rudolph has never thrown more than 9 INT’s in a season and has a career completion percentage of 63.2%. Not to mention, he posted a 4:1 TD to INT ratio.
16.) Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley, WR. Alabama
2017 stats: 14 games played. 63 rec., 967 yds., 15.3 ypc., 69.1 ypg., 5 TD’s
By far his least productive season with the Crimson Tide, Calvin Ridley would give the Baltimore Ravens a young and crafty possesion receiver now that Mike Wallace isn’t expected to resign with the team.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers – Josh Allen, QB. Wyoming
2017 stats: 11 games played. 152/270 passes, 56.6% completion, 1,812 yds., 6.7 ypa., 164.7 ypg., 16 TD’s, 6 INT’s / 92 car., 204 yds., 2.2 ypc., 18.5 ypg., 5 TD’s
Projected as a top 10 pick by most due to his size and skill set, his production simply didn’t match that. However, Phillip Rivers isn’t getting any younger and finding a guy to develop in the NFL draft for the future would be crucial.
18.) Seattle Seahawks – Mike McGlinchey, LT. Notre Dame
The same rhetoric has been uttered from Seattle for years now. This offensive line stinks. Duane Brown is a top 10 player at his position. However, the rest of the line still needs help. Well, here it is.
19.) Dallas Cowboys – Carlton Davis, CB. Auburn
2017 stats: 12 games played. 34 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Davis has been one of the more talked about corners in the SEC for his entire stay at Auburn. He’ll go to a team that seemingly always needs help in the secondary.
20.) Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, DE. University of Texas and San Antonio
2017 stats: 11 games played. 55 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
This guy is every coach’s dream defensive end. Long, quick, and strong with a sensational burst and get off to get to the QB. He’s still a bit lean, though. He’ll need to bulk up to about 260 to 270 lbs. That will come in time. He may be, however, the biggest wild card of the NFL draft.
21.) Buffalo Bills – Malik Jefferson, ILB. Texas
2017 stats: 12 games played. 110 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4 sacks
A very good athlete in space with the ability of getting to the quarterback, Malik Jefferson’s 2017 season was a marketable improvement for him. He’s one of the best inside linebackers in the country and would most likely serve as a Day 1 starter in Orchard Park.
22.) Buffalo Bills via Kansas City Chiefs – Maurice Hurst, DT. Michigan
2017 stats: 13 games played. 59 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble
Maurice Hurst lived in opposing teams backfields this season for the Wolverines. His type of play would be welcome in Sean McDermott’s heavy defensive lineman rotation. With Kyle Williams getting deeper into his 30’s, he’ll be a starter before you know it.
23.) Los Angeles Rams – Josh Jackson, CB. Iowa
2017 stats: 13 games played. 34 tackles, 18 pass breakups, 8 INT’s, 0.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
The former full time WR endured a position change at the beginning of 2016. This year, he absolutely tore it up. He has outstanding ball skills and recovery speed out of this world. He would be a great addition to the secondary, granted both Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman decide to play elsewhere.
24.) Carolina Panthers – Connor Williams, LT. Texas
The Panthers offensive line is improving, but still needs a little help and a bit more depth. Connor Williams will provide both.
25.) Tennessee Titans – Tremaine Edmunds, OLB. Virginia Tech
2017 stats: 13 games played. 108 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles
Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are coming off of lackluster seasons. Tremaine Edmunds could probably challenge for a starting job or could find playing time as a rotational player.
26.) Atlanta Falcons – Vita Ve’a, DT. Washington
2017 stats: 12 games played. 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups
Vita Vea is your typical run stopping defensive tackle with a smigeon of extra athleticism. He can move very well for a 350 pounder.
27.) New Orleans Saints – Lamar Jackson, QB. Louisville
2017 stats: 13 games played. 254/430 passes, 59.1% completion, 3,660 yds., 8.5 ypa., 281.5 ypg, 27 TD’s, 10 INT’s / 232 car., 1,601 yds., 5.9 ypc., 123.2 ypg., 18 TD’s
Lamar Jackson may be the best athlete we’ve seen play the quarterback position in a long time. He’s not a run first quarterback anymore, but he still tends to run quite a bit. His passing mechanics, albeit much improved, still need a little work. He’ll be a project to start off. Not to mention, Drew Brees’ future with the Saints is very cloudy at the moment and they could definitely look towards THEIR future.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, ILB. Alabama
2017 stats: 12 games played. 74 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Seeing the Steelers defense struggle to contain the Jacksonville Jaguars offense was shocking and slightly embarassing for those of Steeler Nation who thought that playoff game would be a breeze. With the uncertainty of Ryan Shazier’s future in the NFL, Pittsburgh may want to get a jump start on finding his replacement and fill the void left in the middle of that defense.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars – Mark Andrews, TE. Oklahoma
2017 stats: 14 games played. 62 rec., 958 yds., 15.5 ypc., 68.4 ypg., 8 TD’s
Mark Andrews is an absolute stud. A tweener between WR and TE, he is a big time matchup problem. He developed a huge nose for the end zone, scoring 22 TD’s in his career at Oklahoma and never averaged less than 15 yards a catch. Blake Bortles would absolutely love this guy.
30.) Philadelphia Eagles – Martinas Rankin, LT. Mississippi State
With the injury to All Pro left tackle Jason Peters, there leaves a gaping hole. Hal Vaitai has been decent filling in. However, it could not hurt this team to have depth at the position barring a possible retirement by Jason Peters.
31.) New England Patriots – Donte’ Jackson, CB. LSU
2017 stats: 11 games played. 45 tackles, 9 pass breakups, 1 INT, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
With Malcolm Butler and the New England Patriots being at odds on a possible contract extension, Jackson could be a potential replacement.
32.) Minnesota Vikings – Jaire Alexander, CB. Louisville
2017 stats: 6 games played. 19 tackles, 4 pass breakups, 1 INT, 1 tackle for loss
Alexander was injured almost the entire season. He sprained his knee in the season opener, missed 4 games, came back, reaggravted the injury and missed 2 more. However, he still has plenty of talent and the Vikings will all but certainly be looking for someone to replace 39-year old Terence Newman at the end of the season.