With the NFL Combine in the books, it’s time to release the next installment of our 2018 NFL Mock Draft. Several prospects, such as Saquon Barkley and Quenton Nelson had strong performances, but where will we see them come off the board at the NFL Draft?
I’ve had Sam Darnold going to the Browns with this pick since my first mock draft in January. After several iterations, I still have him here. I know that Saquon Barkley had a monster performance at the NFL Combine. That being said, I just don’t see the Browns going in a different direction with this pick. The addition of John Dorsey as GM for the Browns should bring stability to the front office, thus bringing in sound prospects for the Browns.
I’ve had the Giants picking the eventual successor to Eli Manning with this pick. Instead, let’s assume that they’ll stick with Manning for a few more seasons and can address that need at a later time. Saquon Barkley checked all of the boxes at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.40 40-Yard Dash, 29 reps in the Bench Press, and jumping 41 inches in the Vertical Jump. There were a few underwhelming performances last season that are a concern, but his ceiling is overwhelmingly high.
It’s still unclear as to the health of QB Andrew Luck, but let’s assume that we’ll see him back under center in 2018. The offensive line is a concern, but apart from OG Quenton Nelson, there’s not a solid offensive line answer this early in the Draft. Instead, I have the Colts addressing another top need – the defensive pass rush. The defense was largely ignored under Ryan Grigson, but new General Manager Chris Ballard will have to change that if he wants to succeed in Indianapolis.
He didn’t play one position at Alabama, but rather, Minkah Fitzpatrick was used as a playmaker all over the secondary. It’s still unclear where he’ll fit in with the NFL, although it’s most likely as a Free Safety. Nonetheless, Fitzpatrick was a dominant ball hawk that attacked the ball each and every play for the Crimson Tide, which is something that the Browns desperately need.
This pick will change if the Broncos are able to land Kirk Cousins in Free Agency, but let’s assume that they don’t. Josh Rosen, in my opinion, has a lower ceiling than Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, but has a higher floor, which is incredibly important for this position. I think what we see in Rosen is what we’ll get at the Pro Level. His mechanics are likely to be refined, but I don’t believe we’ll see more evolution in his game – and that’s okay.
Similar to the Broncos pick above, this pick will change if the Jets sign Cousins, although according to reports, the Vikings are ready to spend a large amount of money to bring him in. Baker Mayfield measured in at 6′ 5/8″ at the NFL Combine, which is still a bit lower than scouts would like. However, you can’t overlook the Heisman Winner’s ability and performance on the field. There are off-field concerns with Mayfield, and while New York might not be the best environment for him, I still believe that he’ll have to fight to erase those concerns regardless of where he ends up.
If the Buccaneers want QB Jameis Winston to succeed long-term, they’ll have to upgrade their interior line, which they’re in a great spot to do with this pick. Quenton Nelson is hands down the best available offensive lineman in this draft class, and I’m not even sure if it’s close. The Buccaneers could also look to upgrade their defensive line with this pick, so be on the lookout for that, as well.
I originally had the Bears picking Denzel Ward with this pick. However, with the news that Chicago has placed the Transition Tag on Kyle Fuller after all, Ward is unlikely to end up in Chicago. Instead, I’ll mock them the best available receiver in this class. I haven’t watched a receiver run as clean of routes as Calvin Ridley in a long time, which the Bears desperately need. If the cards fall right, they could pickup a receiver in Free Agency and opt to address other issues with this pick.
At 19 years of age, we have no idea what the ceiling is on Tremaine Edmunds. With that being said, he’s already a tremendous player that is almost certainly going to get better. Edmunds does a tremendous job of finding the ball and attacking the carrier. He ran a 4.54 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine, but looks much quicker on tape.
I loved watching tape on this kid, which is available in my Scouting Report here. He’s able to hold his own in pass coverage, making plays downfield that some corners have trouble with. Unfortunately, Smith suffered hamstring tightness after his first 40-Yard Dash attempt, 4.51, so we weren’t able to see him in drills. Nonetheless, he’s a playmaker that will be highly coveted in the first round.
Ohio State CB Denzel Ward is a possibility here, but instead, I’m going to give the Dolphins some much needed help on the offensive line. By fitting in at Guard, Hernandez will be given some time to further develop and refine his mechanics.
Unlike years past, this class isn’t overly loaded with top Offensive Tackle talent. With that being said, Connor Williams is the outlier. Cincinnati will have to upgrade their offensive line, and this is the prime spot for them to do so. The Bengals have other pressing needs as well, but look for those to be addressed in day two.
Although he didn’t have a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, Marcus Davenport is a raw talent that is essentially a blank canvas for Defensive Coordinators. His mechanics will need to be refined by NFL coaches, but at this stage in his career, the ceiling is high for Davenport.
Let’s assume that the Packers do decide to retain WR Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, despite the $25 Million cap hit between the two. The Packers are in a great position to address their secondary in this spot. Denzel Ward is the top pure-corner on my draft board, and for good reason. Receiver is still a possibility here, but they could elect to address the position in a later round.
Even if the Cardinals aren’t winners in the Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes, I still think it’s likely that they find another option in Free Agency for a year or two. At $14.1 Million, Tyrann Mathieu has a large cap number and may not be able to remain with the team. The number for Mathieu doesn’t much better, so if the Cardinals want to keep him, it will likely have to be a long-term option.
At 37 years of age, the Ravens are unlikely to re-sign Benjamin Watson. As a result, I’ll mock the best available Tight End to Baltimore here. WR Mike Wallace is also set to enter Free Agency, so if the Ravens are unable to re-sign him, we could see a receiver off the board here instead.
Philip Rivers is 36 years old and isn’t getting any younger. While the team has a long list of needs, Quarterback has to be a top priority for them. Selecting Josh Allen will give the Chargers time to develop Josh Allen and refine some of his mechanics. Allen might have the highest ceiling of all the QB’s in this class, but he is, in my opinion, not ready to start in this league.
The Seahawks have traded Michael Bennett to the Patriots and reports have come out that they’ll release Richard Sherman. I believe that Seattle can look elsewhere for help on the interior defensive line, but they will not be able to overlook the secondary. In a division that keeps getting tougher and tougher to win, the Seahawks must improve this offseason if they want to find their way back into the playoffs.
The Cowboys should look to improve the interior defensive line, which has been lackluster for the past few seasons. Offensive line depth is also a possibility here, although I believe that Dallas can afford to address those needs in the latter rounds.
The Lions used the Franchise Tag on Ezekiel Ansah, locking him up for at least another year. Newly hired Head Coach Matt Patricia should have a field day if he’s able to pair Ansah with an edge rusher like Leighton Vander Esch. The Lions have tried their best to patch holes in their defensive front-seven over the past few seasons, so I’m finally giving them an opportunity to address the position long-term.
I’m assuming that the Buffalo Bills will pass on Lamar Jackson. If they do, it’s opens up their options greatly. They’ll have to replace Center Eric Wood, who was forced to retire. McGlinchey isn’t a Center, but he will give the Bills some flexibility to rework their offensive line and fill holes as needed.
With the offensive line addressed, the Bills can now focus on the defensive line. Vita Vea is one of my favorite prospects in this entire draft class. He was moved across the defensive line quite often at Washington and frequently found his way through double and triple-teams.
The Rams have finalized a deal to send OLB Alec Ogletree to the Giants, so let’s give them a replacement with one of the prospects that saw his stock rise at the NFL Combine. He may not be the prospect that Ogletree was out of college, but Landry has all of the tools to reach the same platform.
Cam Newton had another down year in 2017, although the Panthers were able to make the playoffs. Andrew Norwell is heading to the Giants in Free Agency, leaving a spot open on the offensive line. The Panthers should be able to plug Martinas Rankin into that spot for the time being.
New Head Coach Mike Vrabel will likely have his hands full retooling the defense. Let’s make his job a bit easier with an edge rusher. I still believe that Sam Hubbard has a long way to go in becoming a high-end player, but he does have the makeup to do so.
I don’t know how much interest the Falcons have in upgrading their offensive line, so they could easily look elsewhere or move out of this spot. Once again, the Falcons were close this season, but they must have a good offseason to find themselves back at the Super Bowl.
Assuming that the Saints are able to workout a deal with Drew Brees, even a short-term one, they will still have to find his replacement at some point. I’m not big on Lamar Jackson succeeding in the NFL, but if anyone can get the most out of him at the position, it’s going to be Sean Payton.
The Steelers have established a new identity on defense, but are still without a playmaker in the secondary. Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison was a bully on defense this past season, and deserves to find is way into the first round.
If the Jaguars want Blake Bortles to have success again this season, they’ll have to find a reliable receiver to replace Allen Robinson. Christian Kirk isn’t as polished as Calvin Ridley, but he will find the same success at the pro level.
The Vikings were close to making their way into the Super Bowl, but fell just short. Minnesota will have to make some tough decisions as they look for their Quarterback of tomorrow, but will also have to make some decisions at Defensive Tackle. Shariff Floyd suffered a setback in regards to a knee surgery and may be forced to retire.
It’s still too early to speculate on where CB Richard Sherman will wind up, but New England has to be a likely destination. If the Patriots are unable to land Sherman, they’re still in a decent spot to pickup a defensive back here in the form of Jaire Alexander.
Darren Sproles and LaGarrette Blount are both destined for Free Agency. The defending Super Bowl Champions could grab the second-best Running Back on my draft board in Derrius Guice. Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice have similar measurables, but run very differently. Guice is a north-south runner that runs much smaller than his height. He should fit right into this offense.