2018 NFL Mock Draft: Bengals select QB Baker Mayfield to replace Andy Dalton
Dalton will be too expensive next year so the Bengals pick Baker Mayfield to usher in a new era
Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson will be the most polarizing prospects in the 2018 draft class, and with an assortment of teams in need of a franchise signal-caller, it will be fascinating to watch how draft night unfolds regarding these two unconventional yet ridiculously productive quarterbacks.
As is typically the case, the teams with the first few picks will be in the quarterback market, but there are other organizations picking later in Round 1 that'll be interested in upgrading their signal-caller spot.
There will still be a variety of movement here, but as we head through December, I'm now using the official draft order.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Going with what seems to be "chalk" for the No. 1 overall pick in this one. Rosen and Southern California's Sam Darnold are probably the interchangeable top two quarterbacks for NFL teams, but Rosen appears to be more polished. It will be the second straight draft Cleveland picks a 21-year-old signal caller.
2. New York Giants
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. This will be a trendy mock pairing over the course of the pre-draft process, simply due to New York's need at quarterback and Darnold's immense natural ability. The turnovers were up this season, yet the USC signal-caller made a handful of "wow" throws each game.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Here's a list of interior defensive linemen the Colts have in their division: Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, Jurell Casey, D.J. Reader and at times J.J. Watt. Picking the best guard in the draft at No. 3 isn't risky, it's smart.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. With the future of Joe Staley uncertain, the 49ers fortify at least one of their offensive tackle spots with certainly the biggest and arguably, relative to size, the most gifted tackle in this class.
5. Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Whether it be Tyrod Taylor, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck or Eli Manning, I'm still betting on John Elway adding a veteran quarterback this offseason. Therefore, Sutton would be a logical selection to improve the environment around said veteran quarterback. He's a large, jump-ball wideout with nice wiggle in space.
6. Cleveland Browns from Texans
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. When Browns general manager John Dorsey held the same position with the Chiefs, he picked Dee Ford in Round 1 when Kansas City already had Tamba Hali and Justin Houston flying off the edge. Dorsey helped build the Chiefs by infusing the team with a bevy of talented defensive players. While an offensive tackle to replace Joe Thomas could be an option -- after all, Dorsey's first pick as GM in Kansas City was Eric Fisher -- the Browns will gladly keep Thomas on the left side to protect Rosen for his rookie season and have two stud bookends on the defensive line with Chubb and 2016 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.
7. Chicago Bears
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. The Bears will thoroughly vet offensive linemen so Connor Williams and Kolton Miller will be possibilities here. And yes, the Vikings have a tremendous defensive line in Chicago's division. The Packers' and Lions' pass-rushes are down though, which gives the Bears the green light to go wideout in Round 1. Washington is a fun field-stretcher with impressive body control and strong hands.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. "Controversial" pick? Bengals aren't concerned with that. If all works out, Mayfield can replace Andy Dalton and create a fun offense in Cincinnati.
10. New York Jets
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Williams' 2016 film is the best among all offensive tackles in this class. He fell off slightly in 2017 before his injury, but the Jets -- who just might retain Josh McCown and look for a quarterback later in the draft -- can't pass on his overall skill set.
11. Washington Redskins
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Smith would be a home run of a selection for Washington at No. 11. His hyper-speed, super-physical playing style is precisely what the Redskins need in the middle of their improving defense.
12. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Bruce Arians has coached big pocket passers in his career -- Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer -- and let's venture a guess that he's willing to shift his prototype at the position, a spot he knows better than any other. Jackson presents a variety of issues for opposing defenses, and his arrow is pointing up as a passer.
13. Oakland Raiders
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Had this pairing last week. Won't be the last time I make the connection either. The Raiders could use another play-maker in their secondary after their turnover-starved season. James is a do-everything safety.
14. Miami Dolphins
Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas. This might seem like a surprise selection. If you check out Ragnow's film, it won't surprise you nearly as much as it might have initially. Despite ending his season prematurely with an ankle injury, the Arkansas center's film is actually boring to watch. Mike Pouncey has regressed, and the Dolphins can save $7 million if he's released in 2018.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Ravens could go running back here, although it seems like they're warming to the idea of Alex Collins leading a running back committee next season. Therefore, they go wideout with the silky smooth Ridley, who would produce instantly in a leading role.
16. Los Angeles Chargers
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller is a tall, balanced and powerful left tackle without many flaws -- if any major ones at all. His athleticism and length help him stand out as well. The Chargers are loaded on defense and have a nice group of skill-position players on offense. Time to invest more on the offensive line in front of Philip Rivers.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Cowboys are likely to give huge money to edge-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence this offseason, and with Hurst, they would provide him with an interior pass-rusher who would certainly attract attention.
18. Detroit Lions
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Lions will be tempted to pick Arden Key here. And with a gigantic need on the outside of their defensive line, it would be far from a brutal pick. Instead, Detroit goes with more of a sure thing in Barkley to fix the franchise's running back issue.
19. Green Bay Packers
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Another prospect-team pairing I love. Okoronkwo is the consummate 3-4 outside linebacker with an electric speed rush and bend around the corner as well as experience sinking into coverage.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State. With Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, the Seahawks have cornered the market on the small, speedy wideout. With Ateman, they would give Russell Wilson another tremendous jump-ball wideout who just happens to be 6-feet-4.
21. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Rudolph is a pocket-passer by trade and demonstrated scrambling ability when needed. He has quality touch down the field and is capable of making all the throws, especially the deep out from the far hash. He's also unafraid to pull the trigger on a pass toward a receiver being tightly covered. In many ways, his game contrasts with Tyrod Taylor's.
22. Buffalo Bills
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Third unchanged pick from a week ago. Can't tweak it at the moment. Too perfect. Vea is stunningly strong, capable of controlling offensive linemen and tossing them aside to make impact stops against the run. His hand use helps him as a pass-rusher too. He's what the Bills need in the interior.
23. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DL, Florida. Bryan can play anywhere on any defensive line -- 4-3 alignment or 3-4 base. Dan Quinn runs a 4-3 with some traditional 3-4 elements, so the Falcons would love his versatility and pass-rushing polish.
24. New Orleans Saints
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia. The Saints could be interested in another run-stuffing safety if they move on from former first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro. Blanding would be an awesome replacement, as his superior athleticism and quick play-recognition skills keep him around the football near the line.
25. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio. Davenport has everything you would want in a three-down defensive lineman. Length, explosiveness, pass-rush moves, power, bend and a non-stop motor. He might need to gain some weight to hold up better against the run, but the Titans would love to pair him with Brian Orakpo on their defense.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Jaguars want to run the football. Then run it again. And run more after they run more. Going into Week 15, they've run the ball 30 more times than the second-place team in carries. With McGlinchey, they would get a bulldozer on the edge for their ground game.
27. Los Angeles Rams
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. Jefferson has to get more "aware" in coverage. Against the run, his natural talents allow him to freely flow to the football. He would flourish behind Los Angeles' defensive line.
28. Carolina Panthers
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Learning from Greg Olsen for a season would be beneficial to Andrews, a skilled pass-catching tight end with necessary size and bulk. The Oklahoma star would be a productive secondary option in Carolina's aerial attack.
29. Minnesota Vikings
30. New England Patriots
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Another team that'll strongly consider Arden Key, yet Bill Belichick knows he has edge-rusher Derek Rivers returning from injury. With Guice, the Patriots will get a true bell-cow running back to pick up difficult yardage between the tackles, which will allow Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead to be mainly utilized in the pass game.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon. Crosby operated in a spread system at Oregon and was often asked to get out in front of zone run plays. He thrived in that role at left tackle, and he possesses the athletic skills to block Carson Wentz's blindside.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Ward is a Steelers type of defender ... pesky, athletic and consistently physical when tackling. He's precisely what Pittsburgh needs in its secondary as a Joe Haden replacement.
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