The 2018 NFL Draft is five weeks from tomorrow, and after a big trade in the top six, we’ve got some changes. This was our Super Early 2018 Mock Draft; we made a few changes in August. Our mid-season Mock Draft was in October. We also had an end-of-season Mock Draft in January. Henry McKenna wrote Mock Draft 5.0 before free agency. Reminder: We can only brag about our 2017 Mock Draft accuracy for another month.
1. Cleveland – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Browns GM John Dorsey got Hue Jackson a bridge QB in Tyrod Taylor, and he gets his high-upside, no-rush QB in the burly, big-armed kid from small town California. I don’t buy the Allen/Wentz comparisons, but by all accounts, Dorsey loves Allen.
2. NY Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Eli Manning is only 37; his brother played until he was 40. Tom Brady is 41 in August. The Giants just got Eli a franchise left tackle. They made the playoffs two years ago. Barkley and Odell Beckham give the Giants the 3rd best young RB/WR tandem in the NFL behind Devonta Freeman/Julio Jones and Le’Veon Bell/Antonio Brown.
3. NY Jets – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Would be a dream scenario if this actually happened, and it’s not out of the realm since the Giants have to treat Eli with kid gloves. Option B, if Darnold and Allen are gone: Rosen, obviously. If Darnold and Rosen are gone, I’d take Barkley. Not saying the Jets will, but I would.
4. Cleveland – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Chubb is the best pass rusher in the draft. The Browns have a decision – secondary here, or a guy who can add to the pass rushing depth of Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. This draft has more quality CBs than it does pass rushers.
6. Indianapolis – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Trade down with the Jets and they get more picks and the best lineman in the draft to protect Andrew Luck. The Colts can fortify their defense in the second round with three picks, targeting pass rushers like Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from Oklahoma or Sam Hubbard of Ohio State.
7. Tampa Bay – Derwin James, DB, FSU. Bottom five secondary by many metrics has soon-to-be 35-year old Brent Grimes at corner. James is plug-and-play, and yes, I have him ahead of Minka Fitpatrick right now. The Bucs were last in the NFL in sacks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tremaine Edmunds was in play here.
8. Chicago – Minka Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. Let’s stop all the Fitzpatrick/Jalen Ramsey talk. They aren’t the same player. That’s not a knock; Ramsey is the best corner in the NFL. Fitzpatrick would join forces with Kyle Fuller, playmaker Eddie Jackson, and newly-signed Prince Amukumara to form a solid, albeit young, secondary.
9. San Francisco – Tremaine Edmunds, LB/DE, Virginia Tech. The 49ers appeared to strike gold with Rueben Foster sliding in the draft last year (their first three picks were defenders); now he’s been arrested twice. They signed Malcolm Smith in free agency at help at LB. Edmunds only turns 20 in May.
10. Oakland – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. By every statistical measure, the Raiders defense was bottom five in the NFL. Smith and Khalil Mack on the same defense? Look out. There’s a big need at WR, but I don’t think Gruden bites on Calvin Ridley, here, though Gruden did love to draft offense when he ran the show in Tampa Bay.
11. Miami – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Dangerous fit with his personality and South Beach, but there’s a need for a QB with Ryan Tannehill just about done in Miami.
12. Buffalo – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. It’ll be interesting to see if Ward passes Fitzpatrick down the stretch. Two Buckeyes – Marshon Lattimore and Joey Bosa – have won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards. Ward isn’t quite on Lattimore’s level – yet.
13. Washington – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. Calvin Ridley could be in play for the Redskins here, but it’s not a primary need, not with Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and newly-acquired Paul Richardson. The front seven, when healthy, should be improved. Losing CB Bashaud Breeland in free agency makes the secondary a must-fix.
14. Green Bay – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida. The run on cornerbacks continues. The Packers traded Damarious Randall to the Browns, and then went after Kyle Fuller, but were unsuccessful. It’s clear there’s a void in the secondary, and Hughes fills that. I don’t think his 40-time is scaring anyone.
15. Arizona – Conor Williams, LT, Texas. I don’t think Mike Glennon or Sam Bradford are the long term answer, but I’ve heard nothing yet linking Lamar Jackson to the Cardinals, so I pass on a QB here. Arizona has drafted five DBs in the last two years, which may be a reason besides money they’re comfortable losing Honey Badger.
16. Baltimore – Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Yes, this is too high for a center, but when your QB seems to be taking a step back, and his offensive line was beat up last year, and he lost his center to Tampa … maybe you reach a bit. Perhaps the Ravens try and trade down, but they’ve got to target a center early in the draft.
17. LA Chargers – Rashaan Evans – LB, Alabama. I can’t get over how, in the biggest game of the season, needing a win to get into the playoffs, the Chargers let Kareem Hunt rush for 155 yards. Denzel Perryman – who was injured in that game – needs help, and Evans could be the guy. This seems a tad high for Evans, but the offense is well-stocked.
18. Seattle – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. The signing of DJ Fluker probably means they don’t go OL here. No team suffered bigger name losses than Seattle: Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham. But Seattle also lost CBs Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. The #2 WR might be Jaron Brown, so there’s a need to upgrade the position after losing Paul Richardson in free agency.
19. Dallas – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Dez Bryant, you’re on notice. The Cowboys have a big need at WR. The secondary has question marks, but they’ve drafted six DBs in the last three years, perhaps a few take the leap this year.
20. Detroit – Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA. The Lions anemic pass rush after Ziggy Ansah (12.5 sacks) was a problem. Davenport would change that immediately. Yes, Matt Stafford will demand a running back in the 2nd round (and probably get it).
21. Cincinnati – Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The 30th ranked run defense in the NFL (127.9 ypg) gets help for Geno Atkins in the form of Vea, an immovable All-American.
22. Buffalo Bills – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Let’s just say Brian Daboll’s play-calling plus Jackson’s ability could really be something exciting in 2019 or 2020.
23. LA Rams – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland. The loss of Sammy Watkins (39 catches, 593 yards, team-best 8 TDs) takes away a deep threat for Jared Goff. Moore ran a 4.42 at the Combine.
24. Carolina Panthers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. After Saquon Barkley, there may not be a better player in space in this draft than Kirk. Carolina’s top WRs are Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith. Kirk and Christian McCaffrey will terrify defenses.
25. Tennessee Titans – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The 4th stingiest run defense (88 ypg) lost two DTs and an ILB in free agency. Their 2nd leading rusher (DeMarco Murray) and 3rd leading WR (Eric Decker) are gone. In their place, Dion Lewis and … they’ll be looking at a receiver in the 2nd round.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DE, Florida. The Falcons lost two starters up front in free agency, so that’s an expected target here. Bryan is another riser out of the Combine.
27. New Orleans Saints – Leighton Vander Esch – LB, Boise State. There’s a need in the front seven, and Vander Esch is a sleeper whose name you’ll hear more of in the coming weeks. The Eagles are said to want him badly at 32.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. There’s a major need at linebacker with Ryan Shazier injured and possibly never returning to football. But there isn’t one of value here. Harrison is probably going to fall into the 2nd round, but having released safety Mike Mitchell, there’s an absolute need to plug that hole.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. With Marcedes Lewis gone, and the Jaguars parting with two receivers, there’s going to be a big need for a tight end, and Goedert is the best of a thin college crop.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College. The best roster in the NFL looks to 2019, when impact starters Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, Brian Robison, and Anthony Barr are all free agents.
31. New England Patriots – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. With Martellus Bennett gone, and Rob Gronkowski uncertain of his football future, Bill Belichick tries to find one of the most important positions in his offense.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Isaiah Wynn, LT, Georgia. With anchor LT Jason Peters now 36 and coming off an injury, they need insurance on the OL. I think it’s a tossup on whether Wynn or Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey are the 2nd best LT on the board.