With the 2018 NFL draft still more than 70 days away and a few weeks until free agency starts, mock drafts are sort of in a holding pattern. To spice things up a bit, this week’s mock draft goes through two rounds.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Whether it’s Darnold, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma or Josh Rosen of UCLA, there still shouldn’t be a strong consensus on the quarterback the Browns should take with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Darnold just sort of feels like a holding pattern with the top pick until we hear more from new Browns general manager John Dorsey at the NFL Scouting Combine.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Similar to the Browns, there shouldn’t be a consensus on the quarterback the Giants take with the second pick. Rosen has some injury concerns and may be a player who you always wonder about his durability. When Rosen is healthy, though, he’s a classic pocket passer with a quick release and good arm strength and athleticism.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Going with Quenton Nelson with the third pick would be a surprise choice but a logical one because he’s considered by some as the best player in the draft this year. Still, guard isn’t as high of a value in the top five as a pass rusher. Chubb may not be a super athlete for a pass rusher, but he does everything well as a defensive end.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Although Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is a popular choice for the Browns, Barkley is as well. For the Browns, much of this offseason needs to be about fixing the NFL’s worst offense. The Browns actually have a pretty good offensive line, so a player like Barkley could thrive if he’s utilized.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Are the Broncos in a rebuild? If they take a quarterback here, it would signify as much. But if Denver makes a big splash on a quarterback in free agency, it’s more of a soft rebuild. If it does that, fixing the offensive line is a must. An offensive tackle would be the preference, but there just isn’t one worth this high of a choice. Nelson is considered by some as the draft’s top player
6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Missing out on Kirk Cousins and seeing Barkley and Nelson gone would make for a bad Jets offseason. In an ideal situation they’d get the veteran quarterback and another top piece for the offense. If they fail to do that, going after a quarterback in the first round needs to happen. In this case, that’s Mayfield. An even more ideal scenario would be to get Mayfield and let him sit behind a solid starter like one of the Vikings quarterbacks.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
With Chubb, Barkley, and Nelson all gone, the Buccaneers could turn to whomever they consider to be the draft’s top offensive tackle. For me, that’s Brown. He’s a massive blocker on the edge and beats defenders with his sheer size and power.
8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
If Fitzpatrick goes to a team like Chicago it would be as a cornerback. It’s not exactly a stretch for him since he often played in the slot in nickel coverage.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Few players in this draft have as much raw potential and upside than Edmunds, who doesn’t turn 20 until May. Edmunds excels when he makes a read, quickly reacts, and uses his athleticism to shut down a play.
10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Oakland has badly needed a player who can captain the defense, and Smith can be that guy. Georgia players rallied around the instinctive linebacker, and Raiders players would too.
11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State
James may be listed as a safety, but he’s more of a hybrid safety/linebacker. He has the ability to drop in coverage but the size to be an effective tackler and blitzer.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
In this mock draft, each of the last five picks would be fits for Cincinnati. If the draft really played out in this fashion, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Bengals move back. But if they held at No. 12, taking the top available offensive lineman is the most viable outcome.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Washington would love to see Oakland pass on a player like Vea. That would open the team up to taking the draft’s top interior defensive lineman. Vea can help improve Washington’s run defense lining up next to Jonathan Allen.
14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
An ankle injury literally slowed Landry down for much of the 2017 season. He’s a pass rusher with a game built around initial burst and speed. When he’s healthy, Landry is arguably the draft’s top pure edge-rusher.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Since mock drafts are make believe anyway, let’s pretend the Cardinals convince a veteran quarterback to sign this offseason because Larry Fitzgerald is coming back. If those two things happen, general manager Steve Keim could stick to his motto of best player available. In this case, it’s Ward by a long shot.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This is another best player available scenario, and Ridley would arguably fill Baltimore’s biggest need on offense. Ridley could help rejuvenate the career of Joe Flacco because he’s such a dependable pass-catcher.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
Here is back-to-back Alabama players in a draft where the Crimson Tide could have another double-digit draft class. An interior defensive lineman is the biggest need this offseason for the Chargers, and Payne is a player who should be able to make a difference early in his career.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
It would be easy to complicate this pick by going after a running back like Derrius Guice of LSU or Ronald Jones II of USC or even going with a pass rusher. However, taking McGlinchey fills arguably a greater need. He can play right tackle, which could push Germain Ifedi to the inside or even to the bench.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
The ideal for Dallas should be moving off the No. 19 pick. That could mean going up for a player like Vea or Ridley or dropping back to get better value. Staying here, the choice was between Phillips and Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn. Phillips fits the one-technique spot the Cowboys badly need along the defensive line.
20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Bad stat time: The Lions haven’t had a player rush for 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush in Week 13 of the 2013 season. That’s so bad that even the Browns have had 10 games where a player ran for at least 100 yards. Needless to say, the Lions need a feature back. Guice is a runner who always seems to be working forward and has a nice combination of power and balance.
21. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
If the Cardinals and Chargers both pass on a quarterback in the first round, that would greatly benefit Buffalo. Allen has plenty of warts as a quarterback prospect, but he has the size and athleticism combination teams fall in love with during the offseason process.
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Kyle Williams will be 35 when next season starts, and the Bills need help up front on the defensive line. Hurst is a disruptive player up the middle and thrives when he can split gaps and create pressure.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Until an edge-rusher slips or the Rams make a move on a starter at cornerback in free agency, the old familiar pick of Jackson is the choice. If the Rams still had a second-round pick, it would be easier to look at a different position. But by the time Los Angeles picks again at No. 87, there won’t be such obvious starters. An edge-rusher like Josh Sweat of Florida State or Kemoko Turay of Rutgers would be interesting Day 3 picks if Robert Quinn gets cut.
24. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
If the Panthers happen to lose guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, it opens a big hole on the offensive line. Wynn would fit in perfectly at left guard, and in a pinch he can even play tackle.
25. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
After a middling Senior Bowl, Davenport’s draft stock is all over the place. He’s obviously packed with potential, but he’s limited right now as being a standup pass rusher. That fits in Tennessee where Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan both only have a year left on their contracts.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Although Bryan isn’t exactly a direct stylistic replacement for Dontari Poe, he would give the Falcons another disruptive player up the middle on defense. Bryan is at his best when he can use his aggressiveness to create pocket pressure.
27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Tight ends are often the popular choice for the Saints in the first round, but they still need some talent at linebacker. Evans showed at Alabama he’s coming, playing on the inside and occasionally blitzing from the edge. He’s a three-down player who sort of fills two needs for New Orleans. There should be tight end depth in the second round.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Arden Key, Edge, LSU
The Steelers need a player who can create pressure off the edge because thus far Bud Dupree hasn’t been that player. Key is raw, and has some off-field questions to answer, but he’s at the least a good edge rusher.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
The NFL is a copycat league, and there will be plenty of teams this offseason looking for their own version of Zach Ertz — in other words, a tight end who beats defenders with a mixture of crafty route running, athleticism, and size. That’s basically Goedert in a nutshell.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
With all the best defensive linemen gone, the Vikings could address the offensive line with their first-round pick. Price can play all three interior positions, and he has NFL-ready power and smarts. He has to smooth out his technique a little bit, but he should make a big impact early in his career.
31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Hughes is a legit shutdown man cornerback on the outside and could be a riser after the combine. The Patriots should hope he lasts this long. He is a player who fits their system well and gives New England an instant starter.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
Trey Burton is a free agent and Brent Celek could be a cap casualty, so tight end could emerge as a need for the Eagles this offseason. If both are gone, a player like Andrews would be a nice addition. While he doesn’t blow a lot of people away as an athlete, he has excellent hands and is fast enough to get up the seam.
If the first round finishes with four quarterbacks gone, all eyes in the second round will be where Lamar Jackson of Louisville and, to a lesser extent, where Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State land. It could be troublesome for Jackson if he slips into Day 2.
The second round shows off the strengths of this draft at running back and cornerback. Particularly with running backs, there could be a big run on them at the top of the round. There could also be a premium on pass rushers in this round for teams that may have missed out in the first round.
33. Cleveland Browns: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
34. New York Giants: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
35. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
36. Indianapolis Colts: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
37. New York Jets: James Daniels, C, Iowa
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sam Hubbard, OLB, Ohio State
39. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
40. Denver Broncos: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
41. New England Patriots (via San Francisco): Rasheem Green, Edge, USC
42. Miami Dolphins: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
43. Oakland Raiders: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
44. Washington: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
45. Green Bay Packers: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
46. Cincinnati Bengals: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
47. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
48. Los Angeles Chargers: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
49. New York Jets (via Seattle): Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
50. Dallas Cowboys: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
51. Detroit Lions: Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
52. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
53. Buffalo Bills: Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas
54. Kansas City Chiefs: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Edge, Oklahoma
55. Carolina Panthers: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
56. Buffalo Bills (via L.A. Rams): Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
57. Tennessee Titans: Tim Settle, DL, Virginia Tech
58. Atlanta Falcons: Braden Smith, G, Auburn
59. San Francisco 49ers (via New Orleans): Tyrell Crosby, OL, Oregon
60. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
61. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
62. Minnesota Vikings: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
63. New England Patriots: Fred Warner, LB, BYU
64. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia): Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee