With a fourth of the NFL season complete, teams are starting to scout collegiate players for the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s see where the top prospects and the sleepers go in this new mock draft.
- Cleveland Browns – OT Connor Williams, Texas: Even though the Browns have improved this offseason, they are still on pace to get the first overall pick by season’s end. We’ll have to monitor the progress of rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer throughout the season, but as of now, it appears they will stick with him in 2018 and forgo taking a top passer. Traditionally, teams drafting first overall go with a quarterback, offensive tackle, or pass rusher, and Texas’ Connor Williams should continue that trend. He is strong, athletic, and has great balance. He can have success as a rookie opposite of Joe Thomas if he cleans up his technique with his feet and hand usage.
- New York Jets – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA: The New York Jets are lacking talent at every position on offense, but improving the quarterback can make up for some of those weaknesses. This year’s QB class is getting a ton of buzz and there is debate on who the top guy is. Ultimately, I think Josh Rosen will separate himself from the pack by draft night. He can accurately make every throw and has super clean mechanics. Rosen can come in day 1 and improve this team just as he did as a true freshman at UCLA.
- San Francisco 49ers – QB Sam Darnold, USC: This pick will certainly be different if Kirk Cousins ends up reuniting with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. As of now, however, the Niners need a quarterback to lead their franchise. Darnold has a strange throwing motion, but he has shown enough accuracy to where it is not a huge concern. He is great at extending the play when things break down and teams will value Darnold’s leadership. USC’s pro-style offense will make his transition to the NFL smoother than recent QB prospects.
- Chicago Bears – S Derwin James, Florida State: The Bears have sneaky talent on defense, and that unit can get even stronger with the addition of star safety Derwin James. James excels in run stuffing and pass coverage, showing the ability to play either safety spot. If he can remain healthy, James should end up as a top 5 pick based on his combinations of production and athleticism.
- Indianapolis Colts – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State: This seems like the perfect marriage. The Colts get a young stud running back to alleviate the pressure on Andrew Luck and also get somewhat of a value on draft night. Barkley is my top ranked prospect and the best collegiate runner that I have ever scouted. He literally is the entire package as a running back. He is powerful runner at 230 lbs, but has legit breakaway speed and agility with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield or even in the slot. Barkley will light it up the NFL and the Colts would be wise to snatch him here.
Arizona Cardinals – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming: NFL Scouts love traits in a quarterback. Even though Josh Allen has been awful against legitimate competition, his rocket right arm and athleticism as a runner will make scouts drool. Allen has a ton of arm strength but is lacking with accuracy and decision making. The Cardinals are a team that should look to add a developmental quarterback in the first round to sit behind Carson Palmer. Allen should ultimately get drafted high due to his physical ability as an athlete.
- Cincinnati Bengals – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame: The Cincinnati Bengals lost their two best offensive linemen this offseason. Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler will be difficult to replace. Jake Fischer and Cedric Ogbuehi have both struggled so far and both have been benched at times. Enter Mike McGlinchey, a strong Tackle from Notre Dame. He is the best run-blocking tackle in the draft and also excels in pass protection. McGlinchey might be a bit of a reach at pick 7, but the need is too great for the Bengals.
- New Orleans Saints – EDGE Arden Key, LSU: It should be no surprise that the New Orleans Saints are selecting a defensive player in this mock. Seemingly every year, analysts and fans talk of the Saints’ horrible defense and how to fix it. Remember when Junior Galette was pilling up sacks for the Saints? That year, 2013, the New Orleans Saints were a top 5 defense in yards allowed and total points scored. Honestly, the Saints could go anywhere on defense with this pick and get a boost, but LSU’s Arden Key may help the Saint’s defense turn the corner the fastest. Key is lighting quick off the line and creates a ton of QB hurries and sacks. A dynamic pass rusher like Key can fill a huge hole and relive pressure on the underwhelming secondary.
- Los Angeles Rams – S/CB Minka Fitzpatrick, Alabama: The Rams defensive is a sneaky good unit, but they could use another talented secondary player. Enter in Minka Fitzpatrick, the long Alabama safety who can also play cornerback. Fitzpatrick was an All-American last season and showed the potential to be a stud at the next level. Scouts will want him to clean up his technique, but he outplayed last year’s no. 14 overall pick Marlon Humphrey at Alabama last season and is playing well again currently. Fitzpatrick should be a top 10 pick.
- Los Angeles Chargers – DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson: The Chargers don’t actually have a ton of needs, but they always pick high in the draft because they can’t stay health. Clemson’s Christian Wilkins could pair with Joey Bosa as a dynamic duo on the defensive line. An explosive first step and immense power should make Wilkins the pick here.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College: Blake Bortles is not the answer at quarterback for the Jaguars, but they will likely neglect the positional need once again in the first round. If they don’t choose a signal caller, the Jaguars love to chose athletic defenders. Harold Landry fits this mold as a long, fluid athlete who is raw in terms of his moves, but has the talent to be special. Ultimately, he can be what the Jags wanted Dante Fowler Jr. to be.
- Buffalo Bills – CB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State: With Ronald Darby out the door, Buffalo is in need of a true number one corner. College Football’s reigning interception leader can fill this role in year one. McFadden needs to work on his technique, but he is an aggressive and physical player. He has great prototypical size at 6’2’’ and is a great athlete. McFadden to the Bills should be a slam dunk.
Washington Redskins – WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M: The Washington Redskins missed on former first rounder Josh Doctson as he has been injured and ineffective. It’s time to try again with Christian Kirk. Kirk is electric after the catch but also excels in route running. He honestly reminds me a lot of Odell Beckham Jr. in terms of his skill set. Christian Kirk can be a stud in the NFL.
- New York Giants – RB Derrius Guice, LSU: The Giants are featuring a committee of underwhelming running backs this season. Derrius Guice can fill this need and immediately provide balance in the Giant’s offense. The super bowl window with Eli Manning is almost closed, so it’s time to go bold and take a runner who could light it up as a rookie.
- Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville: Louisville’s Zaire Alexander can provide an immidiate upgrade at the cornerback position for the Browns. He is fiesty and super quick, two traits that will separate him from the pack. Alexander makes a lot of sense for the Browns as they attempt to rebuild their secondary.
- Carolina Panthers – EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson: The Panthers are in a good position to chose the best available player on the board. Clelin Ferrell has been a beast this season for Clemson. The Panthers could use another pass rusher as Julius Peppers is probably going to retire and Kony Ealy is no longer with the team.
- Miami Dolphins – LB Malik Jefferson, Texas: The Dolphins are very thin and weak at the linebacker spot. If Malik Jefferson is still on the board come draft night, he should be the obvious pick. Jefferson compares athletically to last year’s second round pick Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame. He is finally matching his talent with production and could easily go higher in the draft. This is both a need and a value, so Miami can’t go wrong with Jefferson.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – SS Ronnie Harrison, Alabama: The Bucs have a solid defensive unit, but adding another playmaker should be a priority. T.J. Ward has been solid since joining the team, but he will be a free agent they shouldn’t want to pay. Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison is a ball hawking safety who can lay down the boom. He has the ability to extended Bama’s tradition of producing stud safeties such as Landon Collins and Haha Clinton-Dix.
- Detroit Lions – EDGE Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas: The Lions are lacking a true pass rusher to put pressure on quarterbacks. Dorance Armstrong Jr. can change that. He is a fluid athlete with good bend around the edge and has the production to go with it. If he can continue to dominate, don’t be surprised if Armstrong is off the board in the teens.
- Baltimore Ravens – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama: Calvin Ridley to Baltimore makes too much sense. The Ravens need to get a talented pass catcher on their roster and GM Ozzie Newsome loves drafting people out of Alabama. The Ravens offense is stagnant and needs a playmaker to break games open. Ridley should be the pick here.
- Tennessee Titans – LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State: The Tennessee Titans have the outside appearance of a Super Bowl contender, but their defense likely will hold them back. Cornerback and Linebacker are two likely positions that the Titans will look to add with this pick. With no corners of value on the board, Tennesse should go with Jerome Baker. He was terrific last season for the Buckeyes, finishing as the team’s second leading tackler. Baker has a knack for making big plays in big games. He had a 68-yard pick six against Oklahoma and recorded 15 tackles against Michigan. The Titans should look for Baker to overtake Avery Williams and strengthen the defense.
- Seattle Seahawks – OG Quentin Nelson, Notre Dame: Quite frankly, the Seahawks need to once again invest in their offense line. Seattle’s protection has constantly prevented them from getting back to the Super Bowl. Quenton Nelson should be able to give Russell Wilson some more time in the pocket and open up some holes in the running game. The Seahawks shouldn’t be afraid to take yet another offensive lineman with their first round pick.
Oakland Raiders – LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama: The Raiders have a dynamic offensive attack but not the defensive talent to support it. Shaun Dion Hamilton can man the middle for the Raiders and help the defensive get off the field on third down. The Raiders need to continue to add young players to their defense, and Hamilton can add youth and talent to the linbacker unit in Oakland.
- Dallas Cowboys – CB Anthony Averett, Alabama: The Cowboys are feauturing a very young crop of cornerbacks including rookies Chidobe Awuize and Jourdan Lewis. Both of these players haven’t looked bad, but there is no guarantee that both players will pan out. Dallas would be wise to yet again invest at the cornerback position in the draft. Anthony Averett has the size, speed, and ball skills to be successful as a rookie.
- Philadelphia Eagles – WR Deon Cain, Clemson: With Jordan Matthews out the door, Alshon Jeffery is the only true threat at the wide out spot for the Eagles. Deon Cain can change that due to his deep speed and catching ability. He is a great boundary receiver but can also win from the slot. Cain should be a first round pick if he can stay healthy and make some more highlight-reel catches.
- Denver Broncos – DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State: Don’t be surprised if the Broncos choose to take a QB here, but I think they wait to address the position and take the best player available. Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones is a powerful defensive lineman who packs some solid burst as well. Denver has a rock solid defensive unit, but they should seek to get younger as their studs are nearing the end of their prime.
- Minnesota Vikings – OT Trey Adams, Washington: The offensive line has been an issue for the Vikings for the past couple year, and it’s time that they address that need with a first round pick. Trey Adams might be more of a project, but his size and athleticism scream franchise tackle. This team is already pretty solid, so they should try to keep their quarterback upright for a season by taking a offensive linemen early.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State: The Steeler’s defensive has been very impressive through the first four weeks, but they still need another pass rusher for the future as James Harrison can’t play forever. Bradley Chubb is a nasty player who plays hard and with a ton of power. He is a great pass rusher and is solid against the run. Chubb actually reminds me of a young James Harrison, so Pittsburgh should be willing to select him here in the first round.
- Green Bay Packers – RB Ronald Jones II, USC: The Packers really need a capable running back on their roster. Ty Montgomery is averaging three yards a carry this season and his backups have underwhelmed as well. When Eddie Lacy was tearing it up early in his career, the Packers were Super Bowl contenders. It’s time to try again with USC’s Ronald Jones II. Jones is the player that the Packers want Montgomery to be, as he is a smart runner with great deep speed and has the route running and hands of a receiver. The Packers should hope that Jones is still available with their pick in the first round because he can have a great rookie year alongside Aaron Rodgers and a good offensive line.
- Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville: For whatever reason, the Buffalo Bills don’t like the play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The team keeps threatening to cut him but never actually do. If the Bills are trying to rebuild without Taylor, they need a new quarterback to lead the helm. Former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson can possibly be the answer. Jackson is a far better passer than most people give him credit for, but his running ability is on the level of Michael Vick. Jackson has a ton of arm strength and throws a tight spiral, but teams will be concerned with his small frame and the recent failure of RGIII, another running quarterback. Ultimately though, Jackson has the potential to be what the Bills want Taylor to be.
- Atlanta Falcons – DL Vita Vea, Washington: The Falcons should continue to build their young defense with more talent. Recent free agency acquisition Dontari Poe currrently mans the nose tackle spot, but Vita Vea can provide great depth and eventually take his spot. Vea is a true run stuffer who absorbs blockers and plugs up the middle of the field. The Falcons have a pretty stacked roster, so there should be no harm in taking the best player available here with Vea.
- New England Patriots – DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama: Da’Ron Payne should be this year’s Alabama defensive linemen to go in the first round. He has great power and athleticism, allowing him to excel as a run stuffer and a pass rusher. The Patriots love big people, and they need to get more physical up front in order to stop allowing so many points each game. Da’Ron Payne to the Pats fits perfectly.
Please feel free to leave any comments! Hope you liked it!