If the 2017 NFL draft has been defined by stars on defense — beginning with first overall pick Myles Garrett — the 2018 NFL draft could be known for quarterbacks.
The way-too-early outlook for the 2018 draft is that several teams will need quarterbacks, and college football looks to have a strong group of them. Sam Darnold was a sensation for Southern California in 2016, while Josh Rosen at rival UCLA has been anointed a top-five pick since he stepped on campus.
Tucked away at Wyoming, Josh Allen is developing into a top talent with the size NFL teams will covet. Then there’s Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson adding a big dose of intrigue to the whole thing. In total, this mock draft features six quarterbacks.
Of course, it’s all dependent on the players continuing to develop and reaching the potential they’ve shown glimpses of in the past. With that in mind, below we take a look at a 2018 NFL mock draft to project out things could play out a year from now.
As you might expect in a peek ahead, the mock draft is loaded with big-school players. No school is represented more than Alabama, which has five first-rounders right now, followed by Florida State and Ohio State with three each.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
Selecting DeShone Kizer in the second round this year shouldn’t stop the Browns from taking a first-round quarterback in 2018.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
This is San Francisco’s current quarterback depth chart: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, and C.J. Beathard. They’re in position to get a franchise quarterback in 2018.
3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Quarterbacks haven’t been the first three picks in the draft since 1999, but teams showed this year they’ll be aggressive at the position. The Jets can get the player many consider the next Carson Wentz.
4. Los Angeles Rams: Derwin James, S, Florida State
This draft has shown the value of safeties, and James’ talent is off the charts. As a freshman in 201, he had 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and five pass breakups. His talent level is extremely high.
5. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Chicago signed Prince Amukamara to just a one-year deal, and Kyle Fuller hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft placement.
6. Buffalo Bills: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Kyle Williams is entering the final year on his contract, and the longtime veteran could need replacing. Wilkins plays on a loaded defensive line but still managed 56 tackles, 13 for loss, and 3.5 sacks last season.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
After getting Cam Robinson in the second round this year, the Jaguars could double up and finally get bookends. Maybe Blake Bortles can bounce back and get franchised.
8. Washington: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Kirk Cousins might finally find his way out of Washington, and the team will need a replacement.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Bengals picked Jordan Willis in the third round, but Hubbard can be a star if he continues developing this season as expected. Added bonus: He’s from Cincinnati.
10. Detroit Lions: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
Detroit didn’t address pass rusher early in the 2017 draft and could next year with the speedy Key.
11. Los Angeles Chargers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Jackson is going to be the biggest wild card of draft prospects this college football season. He’s a work in progress in the pocket, but he could sit a year behind Philip Rivers and learn.
12. Miami Dolphins: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Miami didn’t take an offensive lineman in the first two days of the draft, so the Dolphins could be after a player like Nelson next year. He’s a powerful, mauling guard who coaches will love.
13. New Orleans Saints: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
Lewis considered entering the draft this year and could really assert himself as a top-20 pick with a good senior season.
14. Tennessee Titans: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are both getting up there in age, and Sweat can be a star. If he stays healthy, he might not be around this long in the first round whenever he goes pro.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This might be Larry Fitzgerald’s final season, and the Cardinals could target his replacement in the first round.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The mammoth Brown could be the right tackle of the future for Baltimore.
17. Minnesota Vikings: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Hey look, the latest member of the Alabama defensive line factory. Payne started every game for Alabama last season and had 36 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
At this time next year, we’ll be talking about Chubb the same way we did about Derek Barnett.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The front-runner to be the draft’s top running back, Barkley gouged several teams last season rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns.
20. Indianapolis Colts: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
With Leonard Fournette off to the NFL, Guice is poised for a superstar season that could see him contend for the Heisman Trophy.
21. Carolina Panthers: Porter Gustin, DE, Southern California
The Panthers didn’t take a pass rusher until the 77th overall pick, so they could be looking for one early in 2018.
22. New York Giants: Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott’s replacement at Ohio State could be in for a monster redshirt sophomore season in Columbus.
23. Cleveland Browns (via Texans): Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
The Browns didn’t get a cornerback in the first three rounds of the draft this year and could go into next year’s draft with that position near the top of the team’s needs.
24. Buffalo Bills (via Chiefs): Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Surprise, yet another quarterback. The Bills could be after one in the first round in 2018 and just missed in the top 10 earlier in the mock draft.
25. Denver Broncos: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
T.J. Ward is entering the final year of his contract, and the Broncos could look to add youth in the secondary if he leaves.
26. Oakland Raiders: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
After ignoring linebacker the first two days of the draft, the Raiders would be happy to see Jefferson here. He’ll rate higher, but since he’s not a pass-rushing linebacker, his draft range might be in this area.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Byron Cowart, DT, Auburn
The Falcons may have gotten pass rusher Takk McKinley in the first round, but Dontari Poe is on just a one-year deal and Ra’Shede Hageman is in the final year of his contract. After a difficult first two years at Auburn, Cowart is moving to tackle this season and coaches and teammates are saying he’s a greatly improved player.
28. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
The Packers didn’t target an edge rusher early in the draft, and Landry could be brought in to play the position in 2018. As a junior last season, he led the country with seven forced fumbles to go along with 16.5 sacks.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
With Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson off to the NFL, Hand should see more playing time in 2017 and live up to his blue-chip billing. For Pittsburgh, Stephon Tuitt could be after a big contract soon, so Hand would act as depth or an eventual replacement.
30. Seattle Seahawks: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Until the Seahawks really address offensive tackle, expect to see them sent to Seattle in mock drafts.
31. Dallas Cowboys: Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
The Cowboys got two cornerbacks this year but could still use a safety to go with Byron Jones. Blanding is a tackling machine who enters his senior season with 358 career tackles and six interceptions.
32. New England Patriots: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
There’s a reason the Patriots reportedly showed a lot of interest in eventual second-round pick Marcus Maye leading up to the draft. After they missed on him, they could find a safety next draft in Whitehead to eventually replace Patrick Chung.