With the 2018 NFL Draft a little over two weeks away, teams are (hopefully) finalising their big boards and beginning to narrow down their options with their respective selections. Whilst the 2018 Draft order is by no means set – with a handful of teams perhaps looking to trade up in order to land one of this class’ premier signal-callers, Sports Stack’s first edition of a mock draft will feature no proposed trades. With that in mind, lets go from 1-32 and find out who might hear their name called on the 26th April.
Sports Stack 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, Quarterback – USC
The Cleveland Browns cannot opt against a quarterback with the first overall pick. Given that they pick first, the Browns are the only team who can be sure they will land the quarterback prospect they like best. Sam Darnold has been mocked to Cleveland since the beginning of the year, lets not over-complicate things. Given a year to sit behind Tyrod Taylor the Browns can mould an offense around Darnold to hopefully limit his turnover numbers at the next level.
2. New York Giants: Josh Allen, QB – Wyoming
Despite being prototypical size and an absolute rocket of an arm, Allen is not the best player on the board by any means. However, the Giants need to address their future at quarterback with a top five pick, Eli Manning has at least another season ahead of him which gives Josh Allen the time to alter his mechanics and ultimately improve his accuracy.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB – UCLA
Many analysts’ favourite quarterback of this class, Josh Rosen is the best pure talent in the draft process this year. Whilst some are quick to point out his off-field issues, Rosen will be forced to mature quickly as the face of a young and fast improving Jets franchise.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB – Penn State
The best overall player in the draft gives Cleveland a one-two punch that most NFL teams could only dream of. Barkley is one of only two ‘generational’ talents in this class puts the Browns – finally, on the ascendancy.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G – Notre Dame
The number two ranked prospect on most boards, Quenton Nelson is a sure fire future All-Pro. With this pick the Broncos give new signal-caller Case Keenum added protection on the interior and stops GM John Elway taking another gamble on a rookie quarterback.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, EDGE – NC State
The Colts have a variety of holes on their roster, but none represent value with the sixth pick like Bradley Chubb. The NC State pass-rusher fills a huge need for Indianapolis who are in dire need of more pressure coming off the edge. With Nelson off the board, there’s nobody else who can provide protection for Andrew Luck worth taking here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S – Alabama
The best defensive player in the class, Tampa upgrades one half of what is an awful safety pairing by taking Fitzpatrick. The Alabama product will want to match up against the best players in the league, something he will be able to do with regularity in the offense-heavy NFC South. If the Buccaneers can draft some corner help on day two of the draft then hopefully Dirk Koetter can make the hopefuls seen on 2017’s Hard Knocks more competitive next season.
8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB – Ohio State
The Chicago Bears have an excellent pair of young safeties and were able to keep Kyle Fuller this off-season. With the addition of Ohio State corner Denzel Ward, the Bears suddenly have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the entire league. Vic Fangio will love having another premier corner at his disposal.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB – Virginia Tech
The 49ers found their franchise quarterback when they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo last season, which means they’re able to go best player available with the ninth overall pick. Kyle Shanahan is yet to draft an offensive player in the first round during his time as Head Coach, Edmunds gives the 49ers a superstar at linebacker and another leader on defense.
10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S – Florida State
This pick makes so much sense there’s almost no chance Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden go for it, but Derwin James is the perfect partner for Raiders’ safety Karl Joseph. The Florida State product is a perfect player to elevate Paul Guenther’s defense, which will hopefully give Khalil Mack more time to disrupt apposing quarterbacks.
11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB – Oaklahoma
The fourth quarterback to go in the first round, Miami finally find someone who will be able to take the team from Ryan Tannehill. Whilst Tannehill isn’t a bad quarterback, he certainly isn’t a good one. Mayfield should find life in Miami comfortable enough, especially with a year to develop his game.
12. Buffalo Bills: Roquan Smith, MLB – Georgia
The Buffalo Bills will not be picking at 12th overall. This team is a quarterback away from making some serious noise in the AFC. Whilst the untimely departure of Eric Woods and retirement of Richie Incognito may tempt the Bills into finding offensive line help, Roquan Smith will be able to captain this defense for a decade.
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DL – Washington
A disruptive nose tackle lining up next to former Alabama star Jonothan Allen? Yes please. Washington have found their franchise quarterback in Alex Smith, now it’s time to pad out the roster around him and push the Redskins toward the post-season having missed out in 2017 – which starts by adding another stud on defense.
14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB – Iowa
Josh Jackson will be a day one starter at Lambaeu. With the Bears signing Allen Robinson and the likes of Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones Jr already in the division defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will look to utilise Jackson’s ideal strength and size to take away oppositions main targets.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Mike McGlinchey, OT – Notre Dame
Not the consensus top tackle on the board, but McGlinchey’s versatility makes him the ideal player to help keep Sam Bradford healthy. With both tackle spots currently in flux, McGlinchey’s experience on either side of the line at Notre Dame means he will instantly find a home on the Cardinals offensive line.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR – Alabama
This is the only pick for the Baltimore Ravens. There are no teams with a hole at WR big enough to reach on a wideout before the 16th overall pick and with Ridley head and shoulders above the rest of the receivers in this class this selection is almost a foregone conclusion.
17. LA Chargers: Leighton Vander-Esch, MLB – Boise State
The Los Angeles Chargers really aren’t far away from becoming serious competitors. With skill position players in abundance and a returning Forrest Lamp to sure up the trenches there is little reason to pull the trigger on an offensive player here. Vander-Esch plays hard every down and will provide an instant upgrade to Hayes Pullard III and Denzel Perryman.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, EDGE – UTSA
With Michael Bennett now in Philadelphia the Seahawks need another player who can get after the quarterback. Whilst the release of Richard Sherman and remaining question marks at safety mean there are plenty of options for Seattle to make with this pick, Davenport is the best value and fills their biggest need.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Rashaan Evans, MLB – Alabama
The Cowboys always need secondary help, and there are some serious question marks over their current crop of receivers (most notably Dez Bryant). However, America’s team make the right call by adding a polished young playmaker to anchor their defense.
Don’t be surprised to see a guard go here.
20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB – LSU
The finishing piece to what would quickly become a potent offense. Derrius Guice isn’t getting as much love from scouts as he might deserve thanks to the sheer presence of Saquon Barkley, but he can certainly lead Matt Patricia closer to the crown in the NFC North alongside Matt Stafford.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT – Texas
Many peoples top-rated tackle in this years class, Connor Williams will become an instant starter for the Bengals who never replaced LA Rams lineman Andrew Whitworth. Whilst it wouldn’t come as a shock if Cincinnati found a successor to Andy Dalton here, picking one of the remaining quarterbacks would be a reach from 21.
22. Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB – Louisville
With only AJ McCarron in the conversation, the Bills need to find a franchise quarterback. Whilst there are some serious question marks surrounding the frame, durability and arm talent of the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson is the best of the bunch at 22 and could legitimately find his way into the top 20 when teams start trading places.
23. New England Patriots: Harold Landry, EDGE – Boston College
The New England Patriots now have two picks in the first and second rounds of the 2018 Draft, the rich really do keep getting richer. With plenty of offensive linemen projected to be on the board when Bill Belichick comes on the clock again at 31, Landry doesn’t fall far from Boston College at the next level.
24. Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander, CB – Louisville
A late buzz surrounding Jaire Alexander has seen him come from relative obscurity to what feels like a first-round lock. The Panthers secondary is ugly, and if they want to compete in the NFC South moving forward then it is a need that simply has to be addressed in the first round. Expect the pick to be Alexander or…
25. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Oliver, CB – Colorado
The other highly rated cornerback left on the board is too good a prospect for the Titans to pass up. Despite landing Adoree Jackson in the first round last year, Tennessee still have a need for more talent at the position. With an All-Pro at safety and a pair of first round cornerbacks, the Titans might be closer to competing than many think.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, G – Georgia
This is a pick that has been mocked so many times it seems impossible that the Falcons look elsewhere. Wynn played his college career at left tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs, but projects as a guard at the next level. If Wynn’s transition is seamless, then a left side of Jake Matthews and Isaiah Wynn would become somewhat impenetrable for opposing defenders.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE – Penn State
One of the most entertaining players in the entire class to watch, Mike Gesicki has the ability to take the New Orleans Saints’ offense to another level. Now in the latter stages of his career, Drew Brees will love having a big bodied tight end with soft hands and playmaking ability. Drawing the attention of safeties away from superstar Michael Thomas, the Penn State tight end will have the Saints passing attack in full flow moving forward.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson, LB – Texas
With few holes on their roster, the Steelers are able to find a temporary (or long term) replacement for injured linebacker Ryan Shazier. Jefferson isn’t as physically gifted as Shazier, but he is a powerful and smart linebacker who can act as the enforcer for the ‘Steel Curtain’.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, G – UTEP
The Jacksonville Jaguars front office won’t be able to help but fall in love with Will Hernandez. A nasty, powerful and technical blocker, Hernandez provides an instant upgrade over AJ Cann (who is in the final year of his rookie deal). Inexpensive guard play will help pay for All-Pro Andrew Norwell on the other side of center, the Jaguars suddenly have one of the better offensive lines on paper heading in to 2018.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, C/G – Ohio State
With Pat Elflien already at center, the Vikings can draft Billy Price and line him up right alongside. With the return of running back Dalvin Cook and the most expensive player in history to look after, investing in the offensive line makes a tonne of sense for Rick Spielman.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT – UCLA
The run on offensive linemen continues as the Patriots select Kolton Miller out of UCLA. This move makes complete sense following the departure of Nate Solder to the New York Giants. If the Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon cannot return to full fitness following a stint on IR last year then Miller will be a day one starter on the right side of the line. However, with a lack of quality at left tackle, the former Bruin might find himself protecting Tom Brady’s blindside.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Courtland Sutton, WR – SMU
The Eagles don’t really have any needs, which makes this pick both fun and yet impossibly difficult. Any one of the remaining tight ends or offensive linemen may see their name called here, but Courtland Sutton is another big-bodied wideout who can create seperation for himself. With Alshon Jeffrey receiving his long-term contract on the way to victory in Superbowl 52, the Eagles find a cheap player to line up on the other side of the field.
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