The NFL Draft is six months away. At the halfway mark of the college football season, and nearly the halfway mark of the NFL season, it feels like time for another mock draft. Because you love to monitor our moves, this was our Super Early 2018 Mock Draft; we made a few changes in August.
1. Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Don’t sweat the 10 interceptions. The list of QBs who threw a lot of interceptions in college is long and distinguished. Cleveland doesn’t deserve a franchise QB this good. Go get Peyton Manning to run the front office, Cleveland.
2. San Francisco – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The 49ers will almost certainly make a play for Kirk Cousins, but if that fails, the free agent market is barren. Rosen is arrogant, and improving. So far this year: 2,620 yards, 19 TDs, 8 INTs.
3. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Yes, the Giants need an offensive line, but that can be taken care of in free agency. You won’t find a dynamic running back in 2018 free agency. Ask the Rams and Jaguars about the value of drafting a star RB.
4. Indianapolis – Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Suffered a sprained MCL and PCL and his season is likely over, but the 6-foot-3, 315 pound junior projects as one of the best lineman if he were to enter the draft. Three-year starter.
5. Cincinnati – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. The Bengals lost their star LT, Andrew Whitworth to free agency (Rams) and now they can’t run. They’re 31st in ypa (3.3) and 28th in ypg (81.8). Brown is the son of a pro, and stands 6-foot-8, 345 pounds.
6. Tampa Bay – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Bucs have a bottom five pass defense in YPA and QB Rating. They need secondary help, badly. Fitzpatrick (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) would help.
7. Arizona – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Allen has had a rough year statistically, completing just 55 percent of his passes (56 percent last year) with just 8 TDs and six INTs. The tools are there, and if Bruce Arians survives the season, he could sit Allen for a year, then let the 6-foot-5, 230-pound QB take over in 2019.
8. Baltimore – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Had 10 sacks and 21.5 TFL last year, and has been even better this year against more double-teams: 6.5 sacks, 13 TFL.
9. New York Jets – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Yes, it’s depressing that the Jets won’t get a star QB. They can’t reach for one here, either. This is a multi-year rebuild anyway. At 5-foot-11, 215-pounds, Guice can get the team back to ground-and-pound until they draft a franchise QB.
10. Oakland – Derwin James, S, Florida State. Coming off last year’s knee injury, James has regained some of his freshman form. The versatile James (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) could start his career at cornerback for the Raiders.
12. Chicago – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. It has to be a receiver. Absolutely has to. You can’t have Mitch Trubisky go into his 2nd season without upgrading the WRs in Chicago.
13. Dallas – Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU. The jury’s still out on Key, who has the talent to be a Top 5 pick, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever put it all together and get there. Has played well recently: 3 sacks, 3.5 TFL in the last two weeks.
14. Denver – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia. There’s an injury history, and maybe this is a reach, but they’ve got to solidify the running game. Or, do you take another 1st round chance on a QB (Mason Rudolph?), or wait until the later rounds? Elway has had some trouble drafting one.
15. Cleveland (via Houston) – Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame. The Browns are in dire need of receivers, but nobody in this draft looks to qualify as special. Brown is a playmaker, and he’s 6-foot-5, and while I like other receivers more, I wonder how they might translate to the cold weather. Brown, from California, has adjusted just fine to the cold Fall weather in South Bend.
16. Detroit – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. Is he too light to play on the edge? He’s not as twitchy as Vic Beasley, but at 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, he was dominant last year (16.5 sacks) and check out his Virginia Tech tape this season (3 sacks, 3 TFL).
17. Atlanta – Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas. Roller coaster career at Texas seems to be hitting the apex this season, as he’s 26th in the nation in tackles and playing like the star he projected as in high school.
18. Tennessee – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Even after drafting Adoree Jackson to pair him with Logan Ryan, the cornerback issues remain.
19. Carolina – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. The offensive line injuries are troublesome. The defense is improving. If you’re going to make excuses for Cam, get him another playmaker.
21. Jacksonville – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The worst run defense in the NFL (5.2 ypc) gets one of the best run-stoppers in college football.
22. Washington – Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State. Speed will be a big question on how high the Cyclones touchdown machine goes, and this feels like an extremely optimistic projection for the 6-foot-5 standout.
23. Seattle – Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Didn’t play organized football until his junior year in high school, but the 6-foot-6, 330-pound is a quick study and is rapidly rising NFL Draft charts. Played soccer growing up, which helps with his footwork in pass protection.
24. Buffalo – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State. Has had a quiet year (2 sacks, 5 TFL) against inferior competition. Could mean nothing; there’s lots of football left. We know the Top 10 talent is there.
25. Miami – Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State. See Hubbard. Limited to 3.5 sacks, 4 TFL.
26. New Orleans – Clellin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. The Saints defense is finally stopping people, thanks to hitting on draft picks like Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, and they keep that hot streak going with this punishing pass-rusher from the Tigers.
27. LA Rams – Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. One of Baker Mayfield’s favorite targets is 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and averaging a crazy 17.3 ypc. Last year had 31 catches and seven TDs; this year already he has 30 catches and 3 TDs.
28. Pittsburgh – Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson. The Steelers probably have the best roster in the NFL, and the only slight weakness I can find right now – besides QB of the future – is inside linebacker, where Joseph could slide next to the hard-hitting Ryan Shazier.
29. Minnesota – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Didn’t have a good start to the season, specifically this moment against Georgia, but since September, he’s looked like the 1st round pick many think he can be.
30. New England – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Patriots will probably trade this pick like usual, but Nelson is too good not to have in a 1st round mock draft.
31. Buffalo (via Kansas City) – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Leads the country in yards per game (378.6), 3rd in QB rating (181.11), 3rd in yards-per-attempt (11.0).
32 Philadelphia – Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State. Secondary is the team’s biggest weakness. I’m curious to see how Ronald Darby rebounds from injury. Safety is a major need, too.