This is it? I think it might be for me, my final mock draft of the year. Just like most stuff in life, I build up in my mind about how it will end, expecting some grand sense of finality, and then a deadline pops me in the mouth and I end up regretting not being able to nitpick every little pick. But here's the reality of the 2018 NFL Draft: no one is going to be remotely correct.
This draft is going to be Michael Keaton-level nuts, with a ton of trades, thanks to the quarterbacks out there. Remember last year's "bad" quarterback class that featured multiple teams trading future firsts to fly up the board and snag signal callers? This draft has two or three guys who could slip a little bit and cause a major seismic shift in terms of teams chasing talent.
Most of these picks will probably end up being wrong, because mocks are often wrong. But I think the spirit of this mock is strong, in terms of feeling how the draft with go. With that in mind a few predictions before you dive in.
At the end of the day, the following things are going to happen:
The Giants will not take a quarterback.
Two teams will trade into the top 10.
The Browns will walk away HUGE winners in this draft.
The order of the quarterbacks taken will surprise some people.
Either Derwin James or Roquan Smith will go higher than people expect.
Two more teams will trade up for the second section of quarterbacks (Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph).
The Eagles will trade out of the first round.
More cornerbacks will go than wide receivers.
The Giants will not take a quarterback.
|NFL Mock Draft - 04/24/2018|
|1. Cleveland Browns|
|Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California: After talking to Dustin Fox on the latest Pick Six Podcast, I was tempted to go Baker Mayfield here. He might very well still be in play for the Browns -- no one knows what Cleveland is going to do outside of John Dorsey. At the end of the day, Darnold is the safest bet, but also a guy with a ton of upside.|
|2. New York Giants|
|Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Dave Gettleman didn't make any bones about taking Christian McCaffrey at the No. 8 pick and he won't make any bones about taking Barkley with the No. 2 pick if he thinks it can help his offense.|
|3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis)|
|Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: There's tons of Mayfield buzz here, almost too much. The Jets can't just broadcast their guy a week before the draft with everyone hearing Rosen could drop and us be expected to just buy hook, line and sinker.|
|4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston)|
|Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: This could easily be a trade-down spot, but I don't think so if Chubb is here. He's the best player in the draft and will be a terror lined up across from Myles Garrett. The Bills will be interested in moving up, but going down to No. 12 might be too far for Dorsey with all the picks he has on hand.|
|5. Miami Dolphins (Mock Trade with Denver)|
|Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Dolphins are acting like they don't want to move up in the draft, which probably means they want to move up. Arizona is another team to watch here, but Denver feels like it has a "For Sale" sign tacked outside the No. 5 pick.|
|6. Buffalo Bills (from New York Jets)|
|Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: If the Bills don't get involved with the No. 4 pick and they miss at No. 5 (a future Dolphins first-round pick is better than No. 22 this year), they're gonna be in a panic/overpay situation for this pick from the Colts.|
|7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Derwin James, SS, Florida State: The versatility that James brings would be a huge plus to this defense, a unit that badly needs help on the back end.|
|8. Chicago Bears|
|Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: Perfect fit with his old coach. Quarterbacks need to slip and trades need to happen in order for Nelson to be on the board here.|
|9. San Francisco 49ers|
|Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia: The 49ers could end up losing Reuben Foster depending on how his legal case plays out, and if that happens they'll need more linebacker help.|
|10. Oakland Raiders|
|Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: Not necessarily a position they're always connected with, but the Raiders just signed Daryl Worley, which should tell you how they feel about their cornerback depth chart.|
|11. Denver Broncos (Mock Trade with Miami)|
|Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama: SHEESH. Good move by the Broncos here, because they slid down the board and still landed a really good player.|
|12. Indianapolis Colts (from Cincinnati)|
|Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech: Same for the Colts, who picked up a bunch of picks from the Bills and still get a high-quality defensive player right here.|
|13. Washington Redskins|
|Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Another big addition to the defensive line for the Redskins, who continue to add Hog Mollies up front.|
|14. Green Bay Packers|
|Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: A fit for Mike Pettine's scheme and an injection of pass rush into the Packers defense.|
|15. Arizona Cardinals|
|Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: They might need to move up if they want to get him, but he's definitely in play for Arizona at the front of this second group of teams.|
|16. Baltimore Ravens|
|Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: The Ravens are a team who can look for a quarterback too, but this team construction has a feel like they can make a run in Ozzie Newsome's final year as GM if everything clicks, and more protection would help.|
|17. Los Angeles Chargers|
|Leighton Vander Esch, OLB, Boise State: Also a team that could go quarterback, instead we're going to give them more defensive help, especially with the injuries they battled at linebacker last year.|
|18. Seattle Seahawks|
|Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa: Long, ball hawking cornerback who fits the bill for what the Seahawks might like when rebuilding their defense.|
|19. Dallas Cowboys|
|Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: It's too easy to give them a wide receiver if one falls, but they do have a need there when you look at the depth chart.|
|20. Detroit Lions|
|Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: Matt Patricia can secure a big body in the middle of his defensive line to kickstart his time in Detroit.|
|21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo)|
|Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas: The Bengals keep investing into their offensive line, understanding how important protection is for Andy Dalton's 2018 season.|
|22. Indianapolis Colts (from Kansas City)|
|Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: The Colts moved down twice and walk away from the first round with a pair of higher-end defensive players. When you see how this plays out, it should be their move in real life.|
|23. New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams)|
|Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA: They have to be in consideration to draft someone as a potential long-term replacement for Nate Solder.|
|24. Carolina Panthers|
|Will Hernandez, OG, Texas-El Paso: The Panthers are hard to peg with Marty Hurney back in the building. I could see them going either Derrius Guice or D.J. Moore here as well.|
|25. Tennessee Titans|
|Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: A top-10 talent with some potential health issues, the Titans fortify their defensive line with this selection.|
|26. Atlanta Falcons|
|Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: Just of those guys and teams that makes a lot of sense from a fit perspective.|
|27. New Orleans Saints|
|Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: They missed out on bringing Jimmy Graham back and, somehow, their biggest need is finding more weapons for Drew Brees. Good spot to be in.|
|28. Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama: An easy pick for most of this process if it's still on the table, the Steelers need to improve the linebacking situation, although it wouldn't stun me to see them go running back.|
|29. Jacksonville Jaguars|
|D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland: The Jags have invested a lot in receivers and tight ends for Blake Bortles but they could stand another investment.|
|30. Minnesota Vikings|
|Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: The Vikings like to draft cornerbacks early and then bring them along in Mike Zimmer's program slowly, letting them develop at the right time.|
|31. New England Patriots|
|Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: If you think about the biggest thing that doomed the Jimmy Garoppolo era in New England, it might have been not holding a fifth-year option on him. The Patriots ensure they have one for Rudolph.|
|32. Cleveland Browns (Mock Trade with Philadelphia)|
|Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Eagles are trading out of this spot, it's just a question of with who, and after the Browns missed on Barkley up high, they can land Guice here with the bonus of picking up his fifth-year option, a crucial element in a running back contract in 2018.|