2018 NFL Mock Draft: Bengals find Andy Dalton's successor in Lamar Jackson
The Bengals get ready to move on from Dalton as six quarterbacks go in the first round of this mock draft
It's time for the Cincinnati Bengals to move on from quarterback Andy Dalton, who might just be the most mediocre quarterback in the NFL. So, since I'm in control of all 32 teams for the next couple thousand words, that's exactly what they'll do in this mock draft. Or at the very least, it's what they'll begin to do.
Dalton has been the Bengals' starter since 2011. Though he's won a high percentage of his games (63-44-2), his actual quality of play has been so-so. Since 2011, Dalton ranks 22nd in completion percentage, 25th in yards per attempt, ninth in touchdowns, eighth in most interceptions, and 19th in passer rating (minimum 16 starts). And, of course, he's failed to lead the Bengals to a playoff win, throwing one touchdown and six picks in four starts.
Dalton's not a bad player, but at 30 years old, he no longer holds any upside. At this point, he is what he is: a mediocre quarterback who is suddenly very droppable. According to Spotrac, his dead cap is set at $2.4 million. Now, it's time for the Bengals to select his successor in a deep, loaded class. With the 12th pick in this year's draft, I have the Bengals taking Lamar Jackson, who can either sit behind Dalton for a season or take his lumps immediately as a starter. but all it takes is one team to fall in love with him.
Before we get to the rest of the mock draft, it's important to note that it's based on the following:
- Kirk Cousins signs with the Jets because they can offer him the most money.
- Sam Bradford will go to the Cardinals, who aren't high enough in the draft order to take a quarterback.
- Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum return to the Vikings.
- Tyrod Taylor lands with the Broncos.
- Drew Brees returns to the Saints.
OK, onto the mock draft.
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Browns need their quarterback of the future and it's easy to see why they would think Darnold is the best of the bunch, even if he has some clear flaws. The Browns make Darnold the top quarterback in a pretty top-heavy class. Unlike Josh Allen, Darnold is ready to start immediately.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Though new general manager he needs to put the succession plan in place. Instead of trading back from No. 2 overall with a quarterback-needy team, Gettleman addresses the long-term future of the quarterback position by taking Rosen, who could benefit from sitting behind Manning for a season (or less).
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Chubb might be the best player on the draft board and the Colts don't need a quarterback, which makes Chubb the easy pick here. Trading back and taking an offensive lineman to protect Andrew Luck is tempting, but the Colts can't pass up a pass-rusher of Chubb's caliber. The Colts finished the 2017 season with the second-fewest sacks. They address that weakness by taking the best player in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: Having already addressed quarterback, the Browns use their second pick in the top four to bolster their defense. It'll be tempting for the Browns to take running back Saquon Barkley at No. 4 like the Cowboys did two years ago with Ezekiel Elliott, but instead, they do what the Jaguars did in that draft: take the star defensive back (Jalen Ramsey in 2016). Fitzpatrick is that player.
5. Denver Broncos
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: The Broncos will acquire Tyrod Taylor to be their starter in 2018, but they'll feel the need to address the long-term future at quarterback by taking a prospect with the most arm talent and arguably the most upside in the draft. Allen will sit behind Taylor for a season before taking over.
6. New York Jets
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: Having signed Cousins to be their long-term quarterback, the Jets work on providing Cousins with adequate protection. Nelson is the best offensive linemen in the draft and teams hoping he'd slip into the middle of the first round are fooling themselves.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: The Buccaneers released Doug Martin so they need a new running back of the future. Barkley is probably the most exciting player in the draft. With Barkley, O.J. Howard, Mike Evans, and Desean Jackson, Jameis Winston won't have any more excuses. This is a stacked offense at the skill positions.
8. Chicago Bears
Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma: It's tempting to go receiver here, but the Bears will instead address their dearth of quality wideouts in free agency. Without any stud receivers in this draft, the Bears instead choose to upgrade their situation at right tackle by taking Brown. Statistically, Mitch Trubisky was one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure in 2017. The Bears make protecting him a priority.
9. Buffalo Bills (mock trade with 49ers)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Bills, after moving on from Tyrod Taylor, need a new quarterback. So they trade their two picks in the early 20s to move up and take the Heisman Trophy winner, who will step in and start immediately.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia: Jon Gruden is an offensive-minded coach, but unless he fixes a horrific defense. Smith is the first linebacker off the board because he's clear and away the best one in the draft.
11. Miami Dolphins
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: Ndamukong Suh won't be there forever. And the Dolphins have a wide assortment of holes to fill. Stuck in the same division as Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins, and Baker Mayfield, the Dolphins could do worse than adding another stud defensive tackle.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: The Bengals do the unexpected by drafting Dalton's successor in Jackson, who is definitely a quarterback and definitely not a receiver. It's time to move on from Dalton -- if not this year then next year. Once the Bengals do move on from Dalton, Jackson will be their quarterback of the future, most likely under a new coach too.
13. Washington Redskins
Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist: A bit of a surprise here as Sutton, not Calvin Ridley, is the first receiver off the board. The Terrelle Pryor signing didn't work out. Josh Doctson hasn't done enough since getting drafted by the Redskins. Jordan Reed is always hurt. The team is still reeling from the losses of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Alex Smith is coming from a system that gave him top playmakers in Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. It's time to give him some playmakers. Sutton is Chris Trapasso's top-ranked receiver in the 2018 Draft here at CBSSports.com.
14. Green Bay Packers
Derwin James, SS, Florida State: The Packers already have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at free safety, but strong safety Morgan Burnett is set to hit free agency, giving them a hole at the position. James is second overall on Trapasso's draft board. He's a steal at No. 14.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College: The Cardinals don't see their quarterback in this year's draft, so after signing a bridge quarterback in Sam Bradford or Case Keenum, they continue building their defense. Landry can rush the passer and should form a formidable duo with Chandler Jones. Rushing the passer takes on even more importance considering the Cardinals are situated in the same division as Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jared Goff.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Ridley's slide ends here. The Ravens, whose top pass catchers were Benjamin Watson and Mike Wallace last season, are short on playmakers. And Ridley is often regarded as the top receiver in this class after racking up 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns during his three seasons at Alabama.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Connor Williams, T, Texas: Some of our mocks have Williams going as high as No. 12, so getting him here at No. 17 is nice value for the Chargers, who could use a new right tackle. With 2017 second-round pick Forrest Lamp coming back from a torn ACL, the Chargers' offensive line has a chance to be one of the best units in football. In 2017, they allowed the fewest sacks.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa: With the Chargers taking Williams before the Seahawks can bolster their offensive line, the Seahawks refocus on reloading in the secondary as they enter a period of transition. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas will likely all be out of Seattle in the next few years. Jackson has a chance to become the team's new shutdown corner.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Kolton Miller, T, UCLA: This might be a bit of a reach, but the Cowboys decide they should continue bolstering their offensive line after Tyron Smith's back issues. Miller can fit in at right tackle while La'el Collins slides back in at guard. As we all saw in 2017, pass protection for Dak Prescott should be a priority.
20. Detroit Lions
Billy Price, C, Ohio State: The Lions need a center with Travis Swanson entering free agency, and Price might be the best of the bunch. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein sees Price as "an early starter with Pro Bowl potential." The Lions can use that.
21. San Francisco 49ers (mock trade with Bills)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The 49ers might lose Carlos Hyde in free agency, so they're in the market for a new running back to pair with their new shiny franchise quarterback. Guice can be the 49ers' bruiser.
22. San Francisco 49ers (mock trade with Bills)
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: The 49ers continue getting Garoppolo weapons. Washington, who checks in as the second-best receiver on Trapasso's big board, will pair nicely with speedster Marquise Goodwin.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: The Rams continue making cornerback a priority. They traded for Marcus Peters, who will replace free agent Trumaine Johnson but they won't stop there, taking a cornerback in Davis who has been compared to Richard Sherman.
24. Carolina Panthers
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: Re-signing the ageless Julius Peppers is important, but the Panthers shouldn't stop adding to their pass rush -- not with Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in their division. Davenport racked up 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss in his final college season. He could step in and start immediately.
25. Tennessee Titans
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: For a second straight season, the Titans use a high pick on a cornerback. Even with Adoree' Jackson and Logan Ryan, the Titans need another cornerback in a pass-happy league that almost always operates in three-receiver sets. Ward can be the Titans' third cornerback immediately.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Dan Quinn, a defensive-oriented coach, continues building his defense by taking a player who has all the makings of a star or at the very least, a solid contributor. The Falcons' defense tied for 13th in sacks and ranked 19th in yards allowed per carry, so they can use another defensive tackle in a tough division full of dangerous offenses. The Falcons might lose both Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe in free agency. Addressing the defensive line should be a priority.
27. New Orleans Saints
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: Drew Brees, 39, won't play forever, so the Saints go and get his successor in Rudolph, who is actually ranked first among quarterbacks on Trapasso's big board. Rudolph, who threw 37 touchdowns and only nine picks in his final college season, lands in an ideal destination, getting a chance to learn from Brees and Sean Payton.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Va. Tech: With Ryan Shazier's status basically unknown, the Steelers are suddenly in the market for a new inside linebacker. Some mocks have Edmunds going in the top-10. If he falls here, the Steelers will pounce on him.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: After missing out on Cousins, the Vikings will have to roll into the season with Keenum as their starter and Bridgewater as their backup. Then, they'll keep adding to their defense by selecting Payne, a defensive tackle who can replace impending free agent Tom Johnson.
31. Chicago Bears (mock trade with Patriots)
Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State: The Bears need to acquire a receiver for Trubisky, but passed on taking one with their first pick. But GM Ryan Pace has shown a willingness to trade up, so that's what he does here while the Patriots are OK with acquiring more picks this late in the first round. The Bears use the second-to-last pick of the first round on Gallup, who is ranked 30th overall on Trapasso's big board.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame: Jason Peters is coming off a torn ACL and he's 36 years old. It's time to find their next left tackle to protect Carson Wentz's blindside. McGlinchey belongs in the first round and should develop into a starting-caliber tackle. Learning from Peters won't hurt. Peters is under contract through 2019, but can be cut after the 2018 season with just $2.6 million in dead cap, per Spotrac.
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