The NFL Draft is less than four months away. With the regular season over, it’s time for Mock Draft 4.0. Because you love to monitor our moves, this was our Super Early 2018 Mock Draft; we made a few changes in August. Our mid-season Mock Draft was in October. Last year, I had the 2nd most accurate Mock Draft among pundits.
1. Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. If he declares, I believe he goes #1 to somebody. The Jets would be wise to trade up. If GM John Dorsey really loves Baker Mayfield – as Peter King said here – the OU QB would certainly be there at 4 or 6.
2. NY Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. He’ll be the anti-Eli – brash bordering on cocky, and he’ll have a quote every week. But can he stay healthy? Rosen suffered shoulder and hand injuries – plus a concussion – in his career with the Bruins.
3. Indianapolis – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. A trio of Andrew Luck, Ty Hilton, and Barkley will be explosive and keep the strong Texans/Jags defenses on their heels. There are many needs on defense. And they need a coach, too.
4. Cleveland (via Houston) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. Improving defense with young talents like Garrett, Peppers, Collins and Shelton add the star cornerback they thought they had in Justin Gilbert in 2014.
5. Denver – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. John Elway’s poor run of selecting QBs continues with a choice that may be popular in the region. Please read this before you form an opinion on Allen. I think the Ben Roethlisberger comparisons are nuts. Is Logan Thomas more apt?
6. NY Jets: Connor Williams, LT, Texas. The Jets offensive line ranked in the bottom five in run blocking and pass blocking, per Football Outsiders. There isn’t a QB here worth taking. If they want to trade up for Darnold at #1, that makes sense. I’d be willing to part with several high draft picks, a similar package to what the Eagles spent to get Wentz or the Rams spent to get Goff.
7. Tampa Bay: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Had 25 TFL and 10 sacks, and his back-to-back weeks against Florida State and Syracuse vaulted him into the Top 10. How about a trio of Gerald McCoy, Noah Spence, and Chubb? The Bucs were dead last in yards per play allowed (6.0). There’s a massive need in the secondary, so keep an eye on OSU’s Denzel Ward.
8. Chicago – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. The Bears need pass-rushing help on the outside opposite Akiem Hicks. Ferrell, a redshirt sophomore, has been dominant for two years (29.5 TFL, 14.5 sacks). There’s a huge need a WR, which can be addressed later. Also, Cameron Meredith and Kevin White hopefully will be healthy. Let’s see what kind of identity their new head coach brings.
9. San Francisco – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Might be the best pure cornerback in the draft. The 49ers, assuming they can add an RB and a WR – and they’ve got the most cap space in the NFL – will be a popular playoff pick in 2018.
10. Oakland – Derwin James, DB, Florida State. The Raiders pass defense was 30th in opponent completion percentage (67.5%), 29th in opponent QB rating, and 27th in yards per attempt (7.4). Jon Gruden knows they need a pass defense, right?
11. Miami – Arden Key, DE, LSU. The Dolphins have defensive woes, and only collected 30 sacks. Arden Key opposite Cameron Wake could be effective – if Key lives up to the hype. There were injuries and off-field issues – he had a bad year.
12. Cincinnati – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. There’s a massive need on the line to protect Andy Dalton and open holes for the suddenly non-existent running game. Let’s see what they do for a new head coach.
13. Washington – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. With Kirk Cousins possibly leaving and TE Jordan Reed’s lingering concussion issue, why not at least make the signal-caller gig a little more attractive by getting an explosive receiver?
14. Green Bay – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. One of the best playmakers in the country, Smith is 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, he can make plays with the speed of a safety. Was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
15. Arizona – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Mayfield is talented, but people forget that Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott thrived as underdogs when there were no expectations. There will be major expectations for Mayfield if he goes in the 1st round. Who will be the head coach? Inheriting David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald would be a nice start.
16. Baltimore – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. After 22 TFL and 16.5 sacks as a junior, he was slowed this past year but an ankle injury. Could be the heir apparent to 35-year old Terrell Suggs. The Ravens have drafted five Alabama players since 2010, and there’s a need a WR, so if Calvin Ridley is available, he’ll be in play.
17. LA Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Chargers run defense was a major problem, giving up the most yards in the NFL and the most yards per carry (4.9). Vea is a space-eating 6-foot-4, 350 pounds.
18. Seattle – Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame. There’s a dire need for playmakers, and to repair the Legion of Boom. They may lose Earl Thomas to Dallas. The smart move is to protect their most valuable asset, Russell Wilson.
19. Dallas – Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA. Athletic freak who at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds will slay the Combine in February. The Cowboys need a playmaker at receiver, and a tight end to replace Jason Witten, but in a conference with young star QBs, they need an effective pass rush. Davenport had the 3rd highest grade among 4-3 defensive ends in the country, according to Pro Football Focus.
20. Detroit – Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. The defense has needs, especially putting pressure on the QB, but if the Lions don’t chase Le'Veon Bell (he played at Michigan State in college), it’s time to get Matthew Stafford a high-end running back.
21. Tennessee – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. Explosive athlete who can do it all. The Titans need that. They did select a WR in the 1st round last year (Corey Davis), but Kirk gives Marcus Mariota another weapon. A running back like Nick Chubb could make sense if DeMarco Murray’s run is over.
22. Buffalo – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Football Outsiders rated Buffalo in the bottom five for run blocking and pass blocking, and though there is a need for playmakers. coach Sean McDermott knows from his time in Carolina how much the team is helped by improving the OL.
23. Atlanta – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Falcons run defense was shaky (20th in ypc) at times this season, and four players from the DL are free agents. Hurst was an All-American, and will be 23 when the season begins.
24. New Orleans – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma. It’s going to be nearly impossible to top their 2017 draft, which likely produced the offensive and defensive rookies of the year. Okoronkwo had an excellent season (17.5 TFL, 8 sacks) but struggled late as teams began to double-team him (zero sacks in the last four games). At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, he’ll be undersized; but he’s fast.
25. Jacksonville – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Jags had their best year in the Blake Bortles era without their top WR (Allen Robinson) and their #2 WR Allen Hurns mostly injured (just 36 catches). Marqise Lee and Robinson are unrestricted free agents.
26. Buffalo (via Kansas City) – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. The Bills are rebuilding the trenches and trading Marcel Dareus left a big void. Wilkins (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) can play inside or out.
27. LA Rams – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Rams offense is in terrific shape, with perhaps the exception of tight end. The defense could use help at corner and on the edge. Jackson’s best-known for his 3-INT game against Ohio State.
28. Carolina – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Linebacker Thomas Davis is 34; Luke Kuechly has had a run of concussions. It’s time to start a backup plan at LB, and Edmunds (6-foot-5, 250 pounds), is a good place to start.
29. Pittsburgh – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. The Steelers are saying what the status of Ryan Shazier is, but his health is more important that football. Finding his replacement will be a top priority.
30. Philadelphia – Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida St. The offense was spectacular until Carson Wentz went down. The defense needs secondary help. Badly.
31. New England – Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Assuming Bill Belichick is still running the show … yeah, they’ll probably trade down. But keep an eye on the Nate Solder situation. (So is backup Cameron Fleming.) He’s had a good year and will command top dollar on the market. And you know Belichick hates to pay people.
32. Minnesota – Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. The Vikings are in great shape heading into free agency. But in 2019, four stars will be free agents. Where a fascinating situation awaits: If Case Keenum can lead them to a Super Bowl, we know he’ll get paid. But what of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford? And what if Keenum flops?