The 2018 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and it's time for my first round mock. In this mock, I avoided projecting trades, although many may happen; the Bills and Patriots both have two first round picks and could try to move up for the Browns 2nd 1st rounder, or for another pick. I think Quenton Nelson is one of the best players in the entire draft, but I have him falling because guards are historically devalued in the draft. Although the Bengals do not usually draft centers before day 3, they might just go for one this Thursday. After an offseason filled with rumors on the chattime, the snapface, and the twitter, it's off to Arlington! How do I expect the 1st round to play out? Here's my mock. Enjoy! --Mike B.
1. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Cleveland Browns. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sam Darnold here, and to me he's a slightly better pick, but as suggested by people close to Browns GM John Dorsey, the team is looking hard at Allen and allegedly feigning interest in Darnold to convince the Giants to trade up one spot for the pick. To me, Allen's most likely the pick here, and gives the Browns another shot at a franchise quarterback. With Tyrod Taylor on roster, Cleveland can afford to sit Allen for a year or two while Allen learns the NFL game, so this might be a good fit for Allen.
2. Sam Darnold, QB, USC. New York Giants. I keep seeing Saquon Barkley mocked to the Giants, but to me, Darnold is likely their guy. At the same time, I expect them to try hard to trade back with a team such as Buffalo who is targeting a quarterback. Then again, I don't mock trades before they happen, so Darnold's the pick here. Eli Manning gives Darnold a veteran mentor while he learns the ropes. This spot is going to be interesting.
3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. New York Jets. Most rumors suggest that Darnold and Mayfield are the top two guys on the Jets' board. The team needs a franchise quarterback, and Mayfield is an interesting choice. He's a talented player with a lot of questions about his character, so this could get fun to watch.
4. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Cleveland Browns. The pick here is going to be either Barkley or Chubb to me. I think Chubb, since the Browns just went out and got Carlos Hyde. Bradley Chubb paired with Myles Garrett is terrifying. The Browns only had 7 interceptions last season so they need to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Chubb helps make this happen.
5. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Denver Broncos. Another possible trade spot for Buffalo. There are a lot of teams who need a long-term quarterback in the draft, and next year's class is weak at the position. This makes me believe that the Broncos will take a long hard look at quarterbacks if they're available. Barkley's also an option here since he's still on the board. Lamar Jackson could also be an option here.
6. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Indianapolis Colts. The Colts need to help Andrew Luck, and they have needs on their offensive line and at running back. To me this pick boils down to either Barkley or Quenton Nelson with this pick. Given the NFL's history of not selecting guards highly, Barkley just might be the pick here.
7. Derwin James, S, Florida State. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have paid close attention to Derwin James and are rumored to prefer him to Minkah Fitzpatrick. Bucs GM Jason Licht paid extremely close attention to James at his pro day, so he could be in play for this pick.
8. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Chicago Bears. Not sure which way to go with the Bears with this pick, so going with an obvious team need at cornerback. Ward is a guy that could be a target for the Chicago front office in this draft.
9. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have an extremely strong interest in Sutton, and they could be targeting him heading into the draft. He would be an immediate upgrade to the 49ers WR corps.
10. Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Oakland Raiders. Another rumor-based pick, but the Raiders have a strong affinity towards Davenport and he's high on their draft board. Pairing him with Khalil Mack would be deadly. Davenport's my pick here.
11. Roquan Smith, OLB, Georgia. Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have glaring needs on both sides of the football, and Smith is a very real option with this pick. The team has shown interest in Smith and he has been medically cleared, so he could be Miami's pick.
12. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Buffalo Bills. The Bills may be the best fit for Jackson. Their last quarterback was an athletic, mobile player in Tyrod Taylor, and they have AJ McCarron as a fallback option if Jackson doesn't pan out. Since Buffalo did not trade up in this mock, Jackson's my pick here.
13. Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Washington Redskins. The Redskins need help along the defensive front, and Vea is one of the best defensive tackles in this year's draft. He could definitely be a pick with this spot.
14. Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida. Green Bay Packers. The Packers have a lot of needs, especially on defense. Their secondary is porous, and aging. Hughes or Minkah Fitzpatrick could easily be the pick here.
15. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama. Arizona Cardinals. With Matthieu gone and the top quarterback talent off the board, Fitzpatrick makes a lot of sense here. The team gets a top ten talent in the defensive backfield as a consolation for missing out on a quarterback in this spot.
16. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are in dire need of offensive line help, and with the 16th overall pick, the team snags Quentin Nelson, who is arguably the best player in the draft. Good move for Baltimore.
17. Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers add another piece to a steadily improving defensive unit. Payne would immediately upgrade the Chargers defensive line.
18. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have a lot of needs, but running back is definitely one of them. Guice is a guy who is definitely on the team's radar, and he could be the pick at 18. The team could also go offensive tackle here.
19. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Dallas Cowboys. Dallas needs a receiver after cutting Dez Bryant. Ridley gives them a guy who will immediately step in and compete for a starting role.
20. Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College. Detroit Lions. The Lions need some help on defense, and Landry fills a definite need. He needs some work as a prospect, but he's definitely a potential fit.
21. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are in dire need of offensive line help, and they have no starting center. By drafting Frank Ragnow, the team finds a starting center. This is a team that historically underdrafts at the position, but Ragnow fills one of the team's biggest holes and could be a fit here.
22. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Buffalo Bills. The Bills have their quarterback, and now they need a guard and an offensive tackle to help protect him. Miller gives them one of the two as they head into day 2 of the draft.
23. Connor Williams, OT, Texas. New England Patriots. Every year at least one extremely talented player slides down the board. This year, it happens to be a player who fits an immediate need for New England. Williams is the pick in this scenario.
24. DJ Moore, WR, Maryland. Carolina Panthers. Carolina could use one more top tier wide receiver. Moore gives them after the team lost Kelvin Benjamin last season.
25. Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech. Tennessee Titans. This is a value pick for the Titans; while they need more help at the ILB position, Edmunds has the potential to be an instant game changer for the franchise, and if Edmunds is sitting here, they will pounce.
26. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State University. Atlanta Falcons. The Atlanta Falcons need a long-term answer at the tight end position, and Goedert has the talent to provide that answer. He should be in heavy consideration for the Falcons, the Saints, and the Steelers.
27. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. New Orleans Saints. The Saints are a team who could take a quarterback this year; they looked hard at Patrick Mahomes but missed him when the Chiefs traded up. Rudolph gives them a player who can learn behind Drew Brees for a season or two before stepping into the starting role.
28. Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers need help at linebacker, especially on the inside. Evans is a productive player who can come in and compete to start immediately. This move fits for the Steelers.
29. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars could go in a lot of different directions here, but after extending Bortles, they have a need for a top tier offensive tackle to protect him and to open holes for Fournette. McGlinchey could be the pick.
30. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings could use help at offensive line, receiver, and in the secondary, but Mike Zimmer likely won't let a guy with Bryan's talent on the defensive side of the ball slip by him. Bryan could be a fit for the Vikings.
31. Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. New England Patriots. The Patriots need help at cornerback, and if Jackson is on the board with their second pick in the 1st round at 31, Belichick might bite. Expect them to pick up a backup QB and potential QB of the future on day 2.
32. Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State. Philadelphia Eagles. Vander Esch's stock has been steadily on the rise this offseason, and the Titans do not believe that he will fall to their pick allegedly. However, given the huge number of smokescreens present at this time of the year, it is highly possible that Vander Esch falls to the 32nd pick, giving Philly insurance between often-injured Jordan Hicks.
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