With the 2018 NFL Draft Rapidly approaching, I take a stab at my first Mock Draft of the 2018 calendar year. A lot will change in the next few days leading up to the draft, so these projections figure to change drastically before then.

I have also included some short analysis after each pick, to explain a little further how I came to make these selections. I will likely release my final update and mock draft on Wednesday Night or Thursday Morning. Some final rankings will also be posted this week for your enjoyment (and criticism).

Without further adieu, have at it…


1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen – Quarterback – Wyoming
Pick Analysis: There is no secret that the Browns are taking a quarterback with this selection, the question is “which one?” Cleveland has spent the better part of the past 2 decades searching for a viable starting quarterback. After passing on top QB prospects like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, the Browns finally get their guy here with the former Wyoming gunslinger, Josh Allen.  

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley – Running Back – Penn State
Pick Analysis: Saquon is the cleanest and top overall prospect in this entire draft. With the possible addition of Dez Bryant, this team will be in win-now mode and a top-tier running back can certainly help with that. An offense that boasts skill position players such as Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram would be downright scary and will make them an early favorite to get back to the postseason.

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold – Quarterback – Southern California

Pick Analysis: The Jets are gifted with the top rated quarterback in the entire draft here at three. The trade that this team made to go from six to three will have definitely paid off it it nets them Sam Darnold. The USC Signal Caller is made for the lime light in New York and would not have to play right away. He should be the bonafide starter for 2019 and beyond, once McCown retires.

4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb – Defensive End – N.C. State
Pick Analysis: While I don’t necessarily agree with the Allen selection, adding Chubb here at 4 could certainly make up for that. Chubb is easily the top defensive player available in this draft. To pair him with last year’s top overall pick, Myles Garrett would give the team a dynamic pass rushing duo for years to come. Chubb is an even more polished product than Garrett coming from college and should make an immediate impact.

5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield – Quarterback – Oklahoma
Pick Analysis: Some recent mocks have projected Mayfield to slip, but I just do not see that happening. Elway got an up-close and personal look at the Heisman Trophy winner at the Senior Bowl and I am guessing he liked what he saw. This could also be an ideal spot for a trade down, but I do not typically project those. Case Keenum is the present, but Mayfield would ensure the Broncos a very bright future.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson – Offensive Guard – Notre Dame
Pick Analysis: Being billed as the top interior lineman prospect in a decade, Nelson will be just what the doctor ordered for Andrew Luck. The talented signal caller for Indy has struggled to maintain good health for his career, so protection is paramount here. Nelson is a nasty run blocker and more than adequate in pass pro as well. He will be an immediate starter in Indy and should anchor this line for a long time.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James – Safety – Florida State
Pick Analysis: The 2017 season was a major setback in what promised to be a upstart season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are needs all over this team, but the most pressing ones belong in the secondary. Derwin James is an athletic freak who can hit like a linebacker and has the cover skills to drop down and cover slot receivers. The team gets the most bang for their buck here with the former Seminole.

8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick – Cornerback – Alabama
Pick Analysis: The Bears have struggled mightily in the secondary for the past few seasons, so help is needed badly. Add in the arrival of Kirk Cousins to this division, the Bears need secondary reinforcements early in this draft. Fitzpatrick, a cover corner that also has the ability to drop back into deep coverage, cover the slot and man up as a linebacker in obvious passing situations will help the Bears cover a variety of needs with a singular selection.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward – Cornerback – Ohio State

Pick Analysis: The Niners are a team on the rise and are only a few key pieces away from really contending in Kyle Shanahan’s sophomore season. The secondary has been a big concern for the team. so adding Ward would help fix that. The former Buckeye would give the team a feisty outside corner with the ability to play inside, ala Chris Harris.

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith – Linebacker – Georgia

Pick Analysis: The Raiders have been rumored to covet Roquan as their selection here at number ten. Smith was arguably the top defensive player in the entire SEC this past season. The team needs an heir apparent to NaVarro Bowman and this man is perfect for the job. Roquan has sideline to sideline range and can cover all over the field. He is a natural mike in a four man front, and would fit perfectly in Oakland.

11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds – Linebacker – Virginia Tech

Pick Analysis: Here you go, Dolphins fans! Edmunds is a player that could end up going much earlier than expected in this upcoming draft. For now, I have him filling a big need for Miami as an outside pass rushing presence as the strong-side linebacker next to last year’s second rounder Raekwon McMillan. The big 19-year old has unlimited upside and has the ability to rush the passer, cover tight ends and hit ball carriers with sideline-to-sideline speed.

12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen – Quarterback – UCLA

Pick Analysis: In this scenario, I have the Bills landing their future starting quarterback without a trade up. Most have pegged Rosen as the most likely Quarterback to slip in this draft. While some have questioned his work ethic and love for the game, his talent is undeniable and the value is tremendous here. The Bills will also look to add another receiver for Rosen and another running back to help Shady at 22 or in the second round.

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea – Defensive Tackle – Washington

Pick Analysis: The Redskins run defense suffered greatly with the loss of Chris Baker last off-season, so reinforcements are needed along the defensive line. Vea is great against the run, but is also quick enough to offer some significant pass rush upside. He could end up going much earlier, but if he is available, this would be a steal for Washington.

14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson – Cornerback – Iowa

Pick Analysis: The Packers struggled mightily in the secondary last season, getting gashed repeatedly throughout the year. The NFC North has also improved vastly this offseason, so help is needed badly. Green Bay has dipped into the Iowa pool previously for secondary help (see Micah Hyde) with much success and it appears they may need to go that same route here. Jackson is a polished boundary corner that would help stop the bleeding on the back end.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Louisville

Pick Analysis: Jackson is one of the more intriguing talents and prospects in this entire class. It’s anyone’s guess as to where he’ll end up, but it only takes one team to pull the trigger. After signing Sam Bradford to replace the retired Carson Palmer, quarterback is no longer an immediate need, but a future starter is needed. By taking Jackson here to back up Bradford, they can allow Jackson to develop into a dynamic, long-term answer in the desert.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley – Wide Receiver – Alabama

Pick Analysis: The Ravens go back to the first round receiver well here. Former first rounder Breshad Perriman has not developed as the team had hoped, and they lost number one option Mike Wallace to Philly. Ridley is a much more complete and polished than Perriman was at this point in the process, and would team with new addition Michael Crabtree to give Joe Flacco a dynamic one-two punch on the outside.

17. San Diego Chargers: Mike McGlinchey – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame

Pick Analysis: The Bolts will likely be looking for their eventual successor for Phillip Rivers in this draft. If Lamar Jackson was available here, he would likely be given consideration. This spot seems a little rich for Mason Rudolph but I wouldn’t entirely rule it out come draft night. For now, the team bolsters the offensive line with the polished Notre Dame prospect, and keeps their current signal caller upright.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice – Running Back – Louisiana State

Pick Analysis: The Seahawks’ running game has been an unmitigated disaster since the loss of Marshawn Lynch. The team seemed to have found a long-term answer before UDFA Chris Carson went down with nasty ankle injury last season. Carson is back, but the team will need a true workhouse running back and they find that here with Guice. Oddly enough, many experts have compared Guice’s hard running style to Beast Mode, so this pick makes a lot of sense for Seattle.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton – Wide Receiver – Southern Methodist

Pick Analysis: The Cowboys will undoubtedly be looking for a true number one receiver to replace Dez Bryant. They find their replacement right in their own backyard. Sutton is a big, physical, possession-type receiver just like Bryant was and will provide a nice complement for Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley. He’s not the explosive down-field threat that Dez was early in his career, but he can definitely provide a nice security blanket for Dak on the outside.

20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport – Defensive End – UTSA

Pick Analysis: With Ezekiel Ansah still looking for a long-term deal, the Lions can protect themselves with this selection. Davenport would have gone earlier, if not for some subpar testing at the scouting combine and a lack of great effort in the Senior Bowl. He is still a special pass-rushing talent and first round pick. The Lions draft a similar player with Ansah’s upside coming out of BYU and it certainly worked out well for them before.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams – Offensive Tackle – Texas

Pick Analysis: Anyone who watched the Bengals offense last seasons knows this team is in desperate need of offensive line help. Two new bookend tackles are needed badly in order to protect quarterback Andy Dalton. The running game could also use a boost, where Joe Mixon figures to take over as the lead man full-time in 2018. Williams can provide help in both areas and would be a great value this late.

22. Buffalo Bills: Rashaan Evans – Linebacker – Alabama

Pick Analysis: The Bills already landed their franchise quarterback at 12 with Josh Rosen, so they use this selection to fortify their defense. The team lost starting middle linebacker Preston Brown to New England in Free Agency, so Evans will slide right into that spot. Evans is solid in all areas of his game and would provide a nice long-term answer in the middle of the defense for the Bills.

23. New England Patriots: D.J. Moore – Wide Receiver – Maryland

Pick Analysis: There are some varying opinions on the value of D.J. Moore. The one undeniable fact is that this man is a burner. The team traded Brandin Cooks to Los Angeles in the offseason in order to clear some salary, so it only makes sense to replace that deep threat here. Moore could very well end up being the top player picked at the wide receiver position, but he fits in very nicely here for New England.

24. Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander – Cornerback – Louisville

Pick Anaylsis: The Panthers have been looking for secondary help since the loss of Josh Norman a few years ago. While James Bradberry has been a nice surprise, a running mate is needed on the other side. Alexander is the headiest corner in this draft and will always be around the ball. I believe Ron Rivera will love his play-making ability, confidence and tenacity enough at this position to pull the trigger here.

25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry – Defensive End – Boston College

Pick Analysis: Landry is a player that entered the 2017-2018 College Football season as a consensus top ten projection in this draft. Depending on who you ask, that case could still be made for him. If available for the Titans, he will provide a much needed pass rushing boost to the Tennessee front seven.

26. Atlanta Falcons: DaRon Payne – Defensive Tackle – Alabama

Pick Analysis: The Falcons go back to the defensive line with this first round selection. Payne’s effort left much to be desired during the regular season, but he was arguably the most dominant overall player on the field for the College Football Playoffs. A true disrupter that will set the tone for this defense in 2018.

27. New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan – Defensive Tackle – Florida

Pick Analysis: The early findings on Shelton Rankins are very positive, but New Orleans is still looking for help on the interior of their defensive line. The team was rumored to have interest in Ndamukong Suh before he signed with the Rams, so the need is obviously there. An inside-outside playmaker on the interior, Bryan is a great value pick here.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch – Linebacker – Boise State

Pick Analysis: As much as the Steelers missed linebacker Ryan Shazier emotionally last season, there’s no question his presence was felt most on the field. The whole unit seemed to take a steep drop after the loss of the rangy playmaker, and a replacement is needed badly. Vander Esch is a big, athletic mike linebacker that could drop some due to his overall inexperience.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Gesicki – Tight End – Penn State

Pick Analysis: This could be one of the few surprises of the first round, but not from a value standpoint. Gesicki had a historic Combine performance and has put himself in the number one overall Tight End conversation. After extending Blake Bortles this offseason, it would make a ton of sense to upgrade the weapons around him with a big, athletic playmaker like Gesicki.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Orlando Brown – Offensive Tackle – Oklahoma

Pick Analysis: Orlando may have the best tape of the Offensive Tackle prospects in this class, but his Combine performance and athletic testing may cause him to drop a bit. However, this is a plug and play offensive tackle that could fit on either side at the next level and will provide a big boost in front of new franchise Quarterback Kirk Cousins.

31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller – Offensive Tackle – UCLA

Pick Analysis: Miller has been rumored to be the flavor of the month at Offensive Tackle in this draft. He is an athletic Left Tackle prospect in the mold of former Brady protector Nate Solder. The two biggest losses for the Patriots this offseason were Brandin Cooks and Nate Solder, so they come out of the first day with two viable replacements here.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Hughes – Cornerback – Central Florida

Pick Analysis: With the loss of Patrick Robinson this offseason, the Eagles will likely use this pick to replenish their secondary. Hughes is a big corner who fastens his game after Patrick Peterson and would be a great fit in Jim Schwartz’s attacking scheme. The one potential weakness of the defending champs is fortified here.

As always, constructive criticism is always welcomed. So let me know what you guys think in the comments section. Phins Up!