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Way Too Early 2018 NFL Mock Draft
With over 300 College players watched, my summer scouting has come to an end and my pre-season grades finalized. I thought there would be no better way to mark the end of my summer scouting than producing my first Mock Draft of the 2018 NFL Draft cycle. I have used next year’s Super Bowl odds (with some of my own predictions) to determine the draft order and my own pre-season grades and position rankings to determine the picks.
- New York Jets
Team Needs – QB, CB, EDGE, OL
The Pick – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Jets roster is in need of a complete overhaul, selecting Allen gives them a QB to rebuild around. Allen is a tall QB with a big arm and great athleticism. He is what the prototypical NFL QB looks and throws like. His game is very reminiscent of Carson Wentz coming out of college. His decision-making can be erratic at times, but his arm talent and ability to make those tight window NFL throws is what makes him an elite QB prospect. He comes from a pro-style offense and his footwork improved as the season went on. The Jets desperately need to find their Franchise QB and Allen’s elite talent definitely gives them a solid QB to build around in the future.
- Cleveland Browns
Team Needs – CB, WR, QB, OL
The Pick – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
The Browns roster is coming together and with multiple picks in the first few rounds, they can take the best player available at this spot while focusing on filling needs later on. Barkley is the best player in the draft and gives Cleveland a building block on offense while they look for an answer at QB. He is a true all-purpose back who can help in the pass game, as well as shoulder 20+ carries a game. An electric playmaker is exactly what Cleveland need and Barkley’s freakish athletic ability makes him a threat to take it to the house on any play. While the Browns have Isaiah Crowell, who is a nice back, he will be a Free Agent in 2018. Some fans may want to see a quarterback here, but I think the Browns should give Kizer a chance.
- Chicago Bears
Team Needs – S, CB, OT, WR
The Pick – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Mitch Trubisky is the future of the franchise. Protecting him and adding weapons around him must become Chicago’s top priority in the coming years. The Bears need a blind side blocker to keep Trubisky clean. Connor Williams can step right in and transform a teams offensive line. He is an elite offensive tackle prospect with exceptional balance and foot speed in pass protection. Additionally, he has the desired mean streak you want to see from linemen in the run game, playing through the whistle and putting defenders on the ground.
- San Francisco 49ers
Team Needs – QB, WR, CB, RB
The Pick – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Kyle Shanahan’s tenure in San Francisco will not be truly be judged until he gets himself a quarterback to fit into his trademark offense. Shanahan’s offense requires a signal caller who throws with timing and anticipation. Rosen shows the ability to do both of those things consistently. He is clearly well drilled where footwork and mechanics are concerned. I love how polished Rosen is in many aspects of his game, he comes from a pro-style scheme, has the arm to make every throw and flashes great placement. There are some off-field concerns about him being such an outspoken character, but that isn’t something I am too concerned about at this stage. I think Rosen and Shanahan are a perfect match, the 49ers get their QB of the future to build around.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Team Needs – QB, OT, S, OL
The Pick – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
I think it is apparent by now that Blake Bortles is not the answer in Jacksonville. The Jags need a new QB who can revitalize the team and the fanbase. They have a solid roster, yet they keep turning in disappointing seasons. A young leader at QB is exactly what they need going forward. Darnold is an incredibly impressive young man, playing at a very high level as a Redshirt Freshman. He has all the tools to be a successful NFL QB. He possesses a prototypical frame, a powerful arm, and excellent poise. One thing I often talk about with QBs is the ‘it’ factor. It’s something I saw in Dak, Jameis, Mariota in college and it isn’t a specific skill. Rather, a QB with the ‘it’ factor is one you know you can rely on in any situation, it is a QB who gives you the reassurance that you are never out of the game. It is a culmination of leadership, poise, and confidence in their abilities. The ‘it’ factor is something very present when watching Darnold on film. Watch his games against Washington and Penn State and you will see the ‘it’ factor on display. While he needs to work on his deep accuracy and footwork, I believe Darnold has an incredibly bright future in the league and the Jaguars get themselves a QB who can win them games.
- Buffalo Bills
Team Needs – WR, S, EDGE, QB
The Pick – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
I think if one of the top 3 QB’s were on the board here they would take one. However, they are not. In which case the Bills add an elite player in this class at a position of need. Fitzpatrick has rare cover ability. He is a fluid enough mover to play corner, nickel or safety in the NFL. He does an excellent job mirroring receivers in man coverage and shows a knack for making plays when the ball is in front of him in zone. Fitzpatrick’s elite cover skills would be a welcome addition to the Bills roster in need of help at DB.
- Los Angeles Rams
Team Needs – WR, OT, EDGE, CB
The Pick – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
New Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips loves to have athletic rushers come off the edge in his one gap, 3-4 defense. Harold Landry is a perfect fit for Wade Phillips system. Landry is the best pure pass rusher in next year’s draft and it was a surprise to many that he returned to school for his senior year. He possesses an explosive first step, has long arms to swat blockers hands off him and shows the ability to really bend around the edge. Not only is he an excellent athlete, but he shows good awareness of blockers body positioning and knows when to give oversetting lineman an inside move. Landry has the potential to be one of the premier sack artists in the NFL. His addition to this defense makes the Rams defensive front very scary.
- Cincinnati Bengals
Team Needs – OT, LB, CB, S
The Pick – Derwin James, S, Florida St.
The Bengals have a lot of holes on a roster that was not that long ago a perennial playoff contender. With this pick, they get a real game-changer on defense. James can play either safety position or kick down as a nickel linebacker. He has excellent range in coverage and diagnoses routes well. An instinctive defender who plays the run very well from the safety position, James could be a great playmaker for years to come in Cincy.
- Miami Dolphins
Team Needs – CB, LB, G, DL
The Pick – Tavarus McFadden, CB, Florida St.
The Dolphins need a playmaker at corner to transform this defense. The front 7 is coming along nicely and with the pressure they can generate up front, they need a corner who can capitalize on errant passes. McFadden has exceptional ball skills, last year grabbing 8 INTs. He turns his head early and does a great job locating the ball and making a play. He has great length (6’2”) and does a decent job jamming receivers at the line. While he is inconsistent, his ceiling is very high and he could one day lead the league in picks with his elite ball skills.
- Baltimore Ravens
Team Needs – WR, OT, OL, RB
The Pick – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice doesn’t have the biggest frame, but he runs angry. That attitude is something this Ravens offense could really use. He runs with great balance and has the long speed to take plays to the house. Not many backs possess the awareness of cutback lanes Guice shows. He is a brilliant ball carrier and will serve as a major upgrade over the current backs on the Ravens roster. A lot of Ravens fans will want to see a receiver here, but I don’t think there is a receiver worth taking in the first 10 picks in this class.
- Los Angeles Chargers
Team Needs – OT, S, DL, OL
The Pick – Vita Vea, DL, Washington
Adding Vea to this D line would make one of the fiercest defensive fronts in football. With Bosa and Ingram coming off the edge and Vea collapsing the pocket from up the middle the Chargers would have a solid foundation to build around on defense. Vea is a massive human being at 6’5”, 346lbs. He shows outstanding quickness for his size, which he combines with phenomenal power to bull rush lineman back to the QB. An excellent run stuffer who is powerful at the point of attack and impossible to move off his spot, he would make an excellent addition to this defense.
- Detroit Lions
Team Needs – WR, EDGE, CB,S
The Pick – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU
The Lions were tied for 2nd fewest sacks in the league last season, safe to say an explosive edge rusher will be high on their list of priorities when next off-season comes around. Key is a phenomenal athlete with the quickness off the snap to be a real difference-maker for the Lions. Key uses excellent acceleration, long strides and surprising amounts of bend for a taller edge rusher to apply a constant stream of pressure on the QB. Displays good hand use to swat blockers hands away. A work in progress against the run, as he can get pushed off the line at times but an instant impact pass rusher for a Lions team in desperate need of someone who can put pressure on the QB.
- Philadelphia Eagles
Team Needs – WR, OL, CB, TE
The Pick – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Alshon Jeffery is only on a 1 year deal for the Eagles, they must find a receiver who can be a long-term number one option for Wentz in the passing game. Ridley is a super smooth route runner and a dangerous runner after the catch. He can make those ‘wow’ catches that excite a fan base and will provide a reliable target for Wentz for years to come.
- New Orleans Saints
Team Needs – EDGE, S, WR, QB
The Pick – Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State
The Saints need talent on defense. They only managed 30 team sacks last year and outside of Cameron Jordan don’t have anyone who can consistently pressure the QB. Lewis is a great athlete who can win with speed or power on the edge. He has a great dip and rip move and plays with a relentless motor. I believe he’s a decent fit as a DE in the Saints scheme and would be very productive opposite Cameron Jordan.
- Washington Redskins
Team Needs – LB, S, QB, CB
The Pick – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Bashaud Breeland struggled last year at corner. Pairing a corner like Alexander with Josh Norman would give the Redskins an impressive group of defensive backs. Norman and Alexander at corner with DJ Swearinger and Sua Cravens at safety are a group that will make it difficult to throw the ball on. Alexander is an exceptional athlete with superb ball skills. He diagnoses quickly and covers ground rapidly to break on the ball. I like his ability to get physical with receivers and think he has huge upside tied to his athleticism and ball skills. Of course, the Redskins may be in the market for a QB this time next year, but for now, I have them going with a corner until we know more about what the QB situation will be.
- Minnesota Vikings
Team Needs – WR, OL, DL QB
The Pick – Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Putting Wilkins in as the 3 technique defensive tackle in Minnesota’s 4-3 D would be a great fit. Linval Joseph is an exceptional nose tackle who requires double teaming. This would free up Wilkins to make plays in the backfield. Wilkins is a phenomenal athlete for his size and lined up as an edge rusher for Clemson last year. At 6’4” 310lbs he will find a home along the interior of the defensive line in the NF. With great power and quickness, Wilkins can hold the point of attack against the run and generate some pass rush. The pairing of Linval Joseph and Christian Wilkins could ruin run games and give coordinators nightmares.
- Carolina Panthers
Team Needs – OT, WR, CB, S
The Pick – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Panthers have needed help at OT for years, finally, they address that need with the selection of McGlinchey, a pro-ready tackle from Notre Dame. McGlinchey has great size and bends well at the knees allowing him to play with a strong base and quick feet for a man of his size. Has long arms which he uses to keep pass rushers at bay and shows great hip and leg drive in the run game. He could be an instant impact starter for the Panthers at either tackle position.
- Dallas Cowboys
Team Needs – EDGE, OL, S, CB
The Pick – Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forrest
I love Ejiofor’s game and he would be a great fit in Dallas’ 4-3 scheme. Ejiofor is an explosive pass rusher who is constantly disrupting game plans. He can really dip when rushing from the edge and does a great job using his hands when rushing the passer. Displays a very well refined spin move which he uses when tackles pay too much respect to his ability to win with speed. Ejiofor could kick inside on passing downs for the Cowboys and form a nice pass rushing duo with Taco Charlton.
- Indianapolis Colts
The Pick – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
The Colts got their free safety in Malik Hooker last year, but they still need a tone setter at strong safety. Ronnie Harrison is just that. An incredibly instinctive and well schooled defensive back, Harrison does all the little things right. He is a good tackler against the run and has great cover skills for a bigger safety. Plays the ball well in the air and can cover TEs and slot receivers in man. With Malik Hooker and Ronnie Harrison at safety, the Colts would have one of the premier safety tandems in the league.
- Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Team Needs – CB, WR, QB, OL
The Pick – Brian O’Neil, OT, Pitt
Joe Thomas is still performing at a high level, but he is getting older. The Browns need a tackle who can step in and play on the right side of the line while being groomed to replace Thomas at LT. O’Neil is a former tight end who brings rare athleticism to the OL. He plays with excellent balance and foot quickness, while also displaying impressive functional strength. A very mobile blocker, O’Neill excels at the 2nd level. Last year, O’Neill didn’t allow a single sack and proved to be one of the best pass protectors in the country.
- Tenessee Titans
Team Needs – S, LB, CB, EDGE
The Pick – Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
One of my favourite players in the class will fill a big need for the Titans, who need an LB who can cover well. Baker is one of the best athletes I have ever seen at the LB position, reportedly running the 40 in the 4.3 range at 6’1” 225lbs. He is a good run stuffer who reads quickly and fills his gap with authority. One of the rangiest LB’s you will find with elite sideline to sideline speed. In coverage, he is capable of covering TE’s, receivers or running backs downfield as well as any defensive back and anticipates routes well. The perfect modern LB, he will be a great addition to a solid Titans defense.
- Denver Broncos
Team Needs – DL, QB, OL, LB
The Pick – Darron Payne, DL, Alabama
In the Broncos aggressive 3-4 defense, Payne could be a dominant nose tackle. He has excellent power in his base and is strong at the point of attack against the run. He converts this power into good push in the pass game, collapsing the pocket up the middle. While Payne has been somewhat overshadowed by his teammates at Alabama thus far in his career, he will shine next year with Jonathon Allen now in the NFL. He is one of the best run stoppers in the country and will destroy double teams. Payne would sure up the Broncos front and keep LB’s clean in the run game by commanding double teams.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Team Needs – S, EDGE, OL, CB
The Pick – Donovan Wilson, S/CB, Texas A&M
The Bucs need some more help along the back end of their defense, a playmaker like Donovan Wilson could be exactly what they need. Wilson is a super versatile DB who can line up wherever the Bucs need him but should start as an in the box safety. He has excellent ball skills and anticipates throwing lanes very well. There aren’t many more physical run defenders at the position than Wilson and he diagnoses run plays very quickly, routinely making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
- Seattle Seahawks
Team Needs – OL, DL, WR, CB
The Pick – Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
To say the Seahawks need offensive lineman doesn’t seem to articulate just how much they have struggled upfront the last few seasons. Adding Braden Smith, a versatile, athletic lineman would be a step in the right direction when fixing that line. Smith is my top Guard prospect in the 2018 Draft class and blocks extremely well on the move. He has great length and quick feet for a guard, displaying a very strong punch when engaging. Plays with great leverage and has the versatility to even play some tackle if needed there.
- Buffalo Bills (From Kansas City)
Team Needs – WR, EDGE, QB, CB
The Pick – Deondre Francois, QB, Florida St.
It is clear the Bills are looking to rebuild and the new regime may decide they want their own QB to build around. In this case, the Bills wait until their second pick to pull the trigger on one of my favorite QBs in the draft. Francois has athleticism and arm strength in abundance. He is one of the toughest QBs in college football and also shows great mental processing, going through his reads quickly. He comes from a pro-style offense and shows great pocket mobility and footwork. Francois can throw the deep ball well and is accurate to all levels of the field. He has all the tools you look for in a QB to build a franchise around.
- Arizona Cardinals
Team Needs – WR, OL, CB, DL
The Pick – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Cardinals need a true number one receiver for when Larry Fitzgerald calls it a career. In Sutton, they get a player who I feel is a work in progress. He needs to refine his route-running and work on his catching fundamentals to avoid the ball going off his hands so much. However, he has great size (6’4”, 215lbs) and shows good quickness. He can make the spectacular catches but sometimes drops the simpler ones. In Arizona, his big play ability will be put to use early. His ceiling is very high if he can tighten up a few aspects of his game.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
Team Needs – S, TE, OL, CB
The Pick – Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The Steelers’ offense is well-balanced, but they don’t have a big play threat at tight end. Mark Andrews is the best TE in the class and is a true matchup nightmare. He runs routes like a receiver and is too quick for linebackers in coverage. While he isn’t the greatest blocker yet, he can flex out to the slot and cause problems for defenses with his ability as a receiver. Adding such a threat at TE will give the Steelers offense another exciting weapon for Big Ben to find in the passing game.
- Atlanta Falcons
Team Needs – OL, CB, TE, S
The Pick – Billy Price, OG, Ohio State
Billy Price is an elite guard prospect and would slide right into the starting lineup for the Falcons. An upgrade at guard is much needed for the Falcons on a roster with few weaknesses. Price plays with excellent leverage and real nastiness in the run game. He will open up some big holes for one of the best backfields in the league. Plays with a strong base and doesn’t give up much ground in pass protection.
- Oakland Raiders
Team Needs – DL, EDGE, LB, RB
The Pick – Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah
The Raiders ranked dead last in sacks last year and need someone who can get to the QB outside of Khalil Mack. Fitts is one of my favorite edge rushers in the 2018 class. He has a rare combination of first step quickness and power. He shows excellent upfield burst and is a high motor player who will chase plays when they don’t go to his side. Excellent run defender as well who holds the point of attack, stacks and sheds well. This pick would make a lot of sense for a Raiders defense that needs sacks and some help against the run.
- New York Giants
Team Needs – OT, LB, RB, OG
The Pick – Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
The Giants have a solid front seven but could use an upgrade at linebacker. Azeem Victor is a perfect fit as a will-backer in the Giants scheme. A quick, rangy linebacker, Victor diagnoses plays quickly and slips blocks well against the run. Not a player who will miss many tackles, Victor shows excellent form in the open field and will deliver punishing hits. Victor has great potential in coverage due to his athleticism and excellent route recognition. This would be a great marriage of need and value for the Giants at this spot in the draft.
- Green Bay Packers
Team Needs – LB, CB, DL, OG
The Pick – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Packers defense could use a big, athletic playmaker in the middle at linebacker. Edmunds would provide them with a great run stuffing presence, who will not be beaten to the edge due to his excellent sideline to sideline range. A superb coverage LB, Edmunds will sure up the middle zones for the Packers against the pass and man up against tight ends and running backs. Edmunds ability to defend the run and pass at a high level will make him a great fit in the middle of the Packers defense.
- New England Patriots
Team Needs – RB, OG, DL, EDGE
The Pick – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
Chubb has an NFL ready frame and would be a great fit as a defensive end in New England’s scheme. Chubb is a very polished pass rusher with excellent hand usage. Can convert speed to power or win with speed and bend on the edge. Belichick loves versatile defensive lineman and Chubb has the frame to kick inside on passing downs to exploit matchups vs. guards.
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