Writer: Elliot Adway
It’s every die-hard football fan’s favorite time of the off-season, and this draft figures to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. With the Cleveland Browns holding the first and fourth overall picks, we could be witnessing the beginning of a new era of winning for the Browns, or for them to inevitably push their franchise back 3 years. Here is my first round mock draft and predictions for the 2018 NFL Draft.
1.Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
This pick makes too much sense for the Browns to not make. With a deep quarterback class like this year, Cleveland could go in a number of directions. Darnold proved on his pro day that he could make any pass in any type of weather. While he might not be the best pure passer in the draft, his unique blend of size, athleticism, and arm strength makes him the best quarterback prospect to start the rebirth of the Cleveland Browns.
2.New York Giants- Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
Trading away JPP for mid round selections likely signals that Bradley Chubb will be the first defender off the board. Chubb is a generational type lineman that will be an inexpensive upgrade to the Giants defense. Pairing him with Olivier Vernon will vault New York’s defensive line into the top tier alongside the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
3. New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield may as well be the best quarterback in this draft, but concern about his size and his twice as large attitude will prevent him from being the first one chosen. Throughout the past couple of years in Norman, Baker proved every Saturday night why he deserved to be leading the show on Sundays. A situation like the Jets will allow him to shine under the brightest lights.
4. Cleveland Browns- Quinton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
While this may be the least flashy pick possible, the Browns can’t let Quenton Nelson slide past them at fourth overall. Touted as the best player by some scouts. Nelson plays will a nastiness that is often compared to perennial all-pro guard Zack Martin, who happens to come from the same alma mater. With a new quarterback running the show, the Brown’s main objective should be protecting him.
5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
John Elway sees his doppelganger in Josh Allen available at number 5 and selects him with no hesitation. Signing Case Keenum gives Denver a year or two cushion in order to let a young quarterback develop while not being thrown into the fire.
6. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
One way to get Andrew Luck’s career back on track is to draft the pound for pound best skill player in the draft. His ability to run in between guards and tackles while being a consistent threat catching the ball out of the backfield will make him Luck’s favorite target if drafted. Barkley has garnered comparisons to Ezekiel Elliott without the off the field concerns, which could be a slam dunk for the Colts if he were to fall to #6.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Adding another piece for Jameis Winston sounds appealing but the safest pick for the Buccaneers is the versatile defensive back out of Alabama.
8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
The Bears defense underachieved at times last year, adding the drafts top corner would help a long way for a team that plays Aaron Rodgers twice a year. If linebacker isn’t the choice, Denzel Ward from Ohio State would be the best pick.
9. San Francisco 49ers- Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Adding Landry to a line that already features Deforest Buckner and Solomon Thomas gives San Francisco more young talent to develop. Reuben Foster’s suspension could lead them to take a linebacker as well, but drafting the 2nd best EDGE defender would benefit the 49ers defense more.
10. Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Roquan Smith is a Jon Gruden type player. His ability to play sideline to sideline will benefit a Raider’s defense that lacks another defensive star to shine alongside Khalil Mack.
11. Miami Dolphins- Vita Vea, DL, Washington
The Ndamukong Suh experiment turned out to be dreadful, moving on is in the Dolphin’s best interest and adding Vita Vea would drastically improve their run defense.
12. Buffalo Bills- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
AJ McCarron should not be relied on to get the job done for the Bills, who will look to the services of the quarterback out of UCLA. Rosen is arguably as talented as any passer in this draft but questions about his love of the game and speaking out may cause him to slide. Don’t be surprised to see Buffalo trade up to snag Rosen.
13. Washington Redskins- Derwin James, DB, Florida State
Landing Derwin James at 13 would be a home run for the Washington Redskins. Putting him in a secondary with Josh Norman would allow James to roam freely and make plays on the ball.
14. Green Bay Packers- Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
Adding a receiving threat early for Aaron Rodgers could tempt the Packers but I expect them to address their depleted secondary by adding Big Ten star defensive back Josh Jackson.
15. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Sam Bradford is the last quarterback you should rely on when it comes to durability. Drafting Jackson and letting him develop until he’s forced into the fire would give the Arizona Cardinals superstar potential at the quarterback position.
16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Joe Flacco is washed and Dez Bryant turned down a multi-year contract. Calvin Ridley might help, while DJ Moore projects to be a better prospect, the Alabama receiver seems to be the answer.
17. Los Angeles Chargers- Conor Williams, OT, Texas
Adding another EDGE defender would be a sexy pick, but Conor Williams fills a need for the Chargers offensive line.
18. Seattle Seahawks- Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Russell Wilson is the only reason Seahawks fans should have hope going into the next season, protecting him will be the X-factor as was the case last year. Isaiah Wynn out of Georgia is a big body who can help patch some holes in the Seahawks offensive line.
19. Dallas Cowboys- DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
With Dez Bryant gone, the elephant in the room is who is going to step up and carry the receiving load. Adding a guard to solidify the line would help Zeke reach 2k, but adding the most ‘Dak friendly’ receiver in the draft would help Dallas’ offense reach its full potential.
20. Detroit Lions- Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
Marcus Davenport might need some tuning, but his potential is off the charts. A team like the Detroit Lions who have a double digit sack star in Ziggy Ansah would be the best place for Davenport to flourish.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
The best pick would be to draft a future star cornerback, but we all know how that goes with the Bengals.
22. Buffalo Bills- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Getting Edmunds here would be tremendous value for the Bills.
23. New England Patriots- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans would be used all over the field playing for Bill Belichick.
24. Carolina Panthers- Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
A true lockdown corner has been missing for a couple of seasons now in Carolina, Hughes could be the next one up.
25. Tennessee Titans- Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
A heart condition may cause Hurst to slide to the later rounds, but a risk is necessary for a Titan’s team needing a spark.
26. Atlanta Falcons- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama–
Dontari Poe’s departure leaves a hole in the middle that could be filled by the big lineman from Alabama.
27. New Orleans Saints- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
With Drew Brees nearing the end of his career, surrounding him with as much talent as possible makes his job easier. Sutton has future star written all over him, he can develop while playing alongside Michael Thomas.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
Playing with Roquan Smith leaves Carter in the shadow, but a team with LB need like the Steelers will love him.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Blake Bortles needs a steady target, Goedert can provide reliable hands.
30. Minnesota Vikings- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Vikings struggles start at the tackle and guard positions, drafting the best available lineman has to be their choice.
31. New England Patriots- Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado
The Patriots need more talent in the secondary and will likely address that position early in the draft.
32. Philadelphia Eagles- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The champs will add a raw but talented linebacker in hopes of improving their already dominate defense.