2018 NFL Mock Draft: Six WRs in Round 1, Steelers grab Le'Veon Bell replacement
The top pick in the 2018 draft will come from Oklahoma State but it's not QB Mason Rudolph
The NFL is a passing league. That's probably the 10,000th time that has been written on the internet. Because it's true. Receivers are clearly more valuable now than ever.
Therefore, teams today have no hesitation using first-round selections on a wideout.
And while the 2018 receiver class may not stack up to the epic 2014 class, there very well could be an assortment of pass-catchers picked in Round 1. Also, are the Steelers going to be in the market to replace Le'Veon Bell next April? Hmmm...
Important: We're two weeks into the 2017 NFL season, so we're still using SportsLine's projected win totals to break ties at this juncture.
1. Chicago Bears
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. This pick is centered around making Mitchell Trubisky's life as comfortable as possible. Washington is a well-schooled, ultra-productive speedster with strong hands and an NFL body. He wins in many ways, and is precisely what the Bears need to begin the Trubisky era.
2. Cleveland Browns
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. Cleveland is one of a few first-round wild cards. They seem to (smartly) prioritize athleticism, and I suspect Fitzpatrick to test well at the combine. With the No. 2 overall pick, you're looking for a true "alpha," and Fitzpatrick has been that at the defensive back position since high school. The Browns are happy to have their Joe Haden replacement.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Kyle Shanahan can't pass on Rosen, the textbook quarterback prospect. While the UCLA signal-caller can get reckless with the football on occasion, his drops, release, and pocket movement are super-refined and ready for the NFL game. He has enough mobility to work well in Shanahan's system that features its fair share of rollouts.
4. New York Jets
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. From Hollywood to New York City for Darnold. Jets management pays no attention to taking another USC quarterback after Mark Sanchez's failures with Gang Green -- Darnold is miles ahead of where Sanchez was when he entered the NFL. Darnold does need some minor tweaks but is a fantastic get for the rebuilding Jets.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. A guard in the top five? You betcha. Defensive tackles are growing in importance in the modern NFL thanks to the proliferation of the quick passing game. Therefore, guard play is extremely valuable. Right now, Nelson is the best overall offensive lineman in the 2018 class, and Indianapolis still needs an infusion of talent up front.
6. New Orleans Saints
Arden Key, DE, LSU. The Saints defense needs woooooorrrrk. No typo there. I mean, it has allowed an average of 512 yards per game heading into Week 3. An average of 512 yards per game. That's a state of porousness not even Drew Brees and Sean Payton can overcome. I'm a huge believer in a pass rush having a major impact on a secondary, and New Orleans needs more juice up front. Key's 6-foot-6, with long arms, and unfair bendiness around the edge.
7. New York Giants
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Williams suffered a knee injury against USC and could be sidelined for a while. However, his film in 2016 was the best among all offensive tackles in the country. He'll be ready to go for 2018. After the miss on Ereck Flowers, the Giants pick a different type of prospect. While not small for the position, Williams is a technician with sound fundamentals.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Cincinnati is another team in dire need of sturdiness at offensive tackle. In this scenario, the Bengals front office and coaching staff see plenty of Andrew Whitworth in McGlinchey, Notre Dame's steady left tackle.
9. Los Angeles Chargers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Safety Tre Boston is currently playing on a one-year deal. Los Angeles will need some youth on its back end, and it hits the jackpot with James here. The Florida State safety could thrive as a "robber" type strong safety, a hybrid weakside linebacker or a rangy center fielder. He can do it all.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. In this hypothetical, Buffalo loves Rudolph's experience, consistent play from the pocket, and willingness to work the ball over the middle and down the field. Barring injury, the Oklahoma State quarterback will enter the NFL with more than 1,300 passing attempts in his collegiate career.
11. Washington Redskins
Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. It's not crazy to assume Washington will view Burnett has a blend of DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder. This pick is contingent upon Kirk Cousins being brought back for at least another season. Terrelle Pryor is playing on a one-year deal and Jamison Crowder will be entering the final season of his rookie deal. Burnett bolsters Washington's wideout group.
12. Cleveland Browns from Texans
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Joe Thomas has been the model of consistency and professionalism during his time in Cleveland, but he's in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. Okorafor is a size/length/balance specimen at the left tackle position, someone who'll work wonders for the development of DeShone Kizer.
13. Los Angeles Rams
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds brings everything to the field the NFL needs from an off-ball linebacker. He quickly recognizes plays, has the burst to beat pulling linemen to the football, and is fluid in coverage. Alec Ogletree has kinda/sorta flopped and although the Rams picked up his fifth-year option, they can cut him before the start of the 2018 league year before any guaranteed money kicks in. Edmunds is an upgrade at weakside linebacker.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Jacksonville finds a replacement for Marcedes Lewis. Andrew is a very athletic, 6-foot-5 tight end prospect who can be a quality red-zone target as well as a dangerous possession option between the 20s. The Jaguars are happy with their defense but need to make up ground on the offensive side of the ball.
15. Minnesota Vikings
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Wilkins next to Linval Joseph? Wheeeeew boy. The latter has emerged as an elite run-stopper in Minnesota and Wilkins can certainly hold his own against double teams. If he wouldn't see many of those playing next to Joseph, Wilkins can make an impact disrupting up the field. Ferrell is somewhat of a late bloomer who'll win over scouts with his hustle, angular frame, and athletic talents. He had 12 tackles for loss and six sacks in Clemson's national title season and has a sack to go along with 11 tackles through two games this year. The Saints really need another quality edge-rusher beyond Cam Jordan.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Cameron Smith, LB, USC. Jordan Hicks is a play-making, sideline-to-sideline 'backer. The Eagles need a commander in the middle of their defense. Smith is that type of player. His lack of twitchiness would be covered up by Philadelphia's ultra-talented defensive front, but he'd accumulate a ton of tackles due to his football IQ and block-shedding ability..
17. Arizona Cardinals
Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma. He's blocked for many more passes than runs during his time at Oklahoma, and he's bound to pass protect often as the left tackle in Bruce Arians offense. Jared Veldheer has given Arizona good return-on-investment, but the team can save $7 million if he's cut in 2018.
18. Tennessee Titans
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. The Titans could use another dynamic edge-rusher, and Okoronkwo is a super-charged speed rusher with an array of moves to beat offensive tackles. He's not huge, but that's fine playing outside linebacker in Tennessee's base 3-4 alignment.
19. Detroit Lions
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia. Glover Quin is one of the most underrated safeties in football. However, he turns 32 in January. Detroit grabs the ultra-versatile Blanding here. He's proven to be capable of filling the "tackling-machine" role in a defense and is fast and smart enough to range from the deep middle
20. Green Bay Packers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson connection has been one of the finest in the NFL for many years. Unfortunately, Nelson's dealt with nagging injuries recently and will be 33 next year. In Sutton, Green Bay gets another jump-ball, back-shoulder, box-out receiver with No. 1 wideout capabilities.
21. Dallas Cowboys
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State. More secondary for the Cowboys. They need it. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are talented players who played in many collegiate games, but McFadden has the height and length they don't. He had eight interceptions a season ago for the Seminoles. In this scenario, McFadden slides into the outside cornerback spot right away.
22. Seattle Seahawks
Auden Tate, WR, Florida State. Seattle can typically be counted on for an "out of nowhere" pick. That's the case this time around, as they take the young, spectacularly talented Tate. He's 6-foot-5 and routinely wins in contested-catch situations. He'll give the Seahawks the size they need at receiver.
23. New England Patriots
Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State. New England needs to continue building its defensive line, especially on the edge. Chubb is a battle-tested end who won't need to leave the field when the Patriots are on defense. He'll play the run well and land somewhere in the six- to-10-sack range each season.
24. Miami Dolphins
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Another team with an edge-rushing need, the Dolphins go defensive end for the second-straight year after grabbing Charles Harris in Round 1 in 2017. Ferrell has the explosion and arm length Harris doesn't.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Right now, Tampa Bay doesn't know what the future holds at its running back spot, so when 2018 rolls around, they grab Guice, who'll immediately calm any of their backfield worries. Whatever you ask of Guice as a runner, he can do it.
26. Denver Broncos
Dorian O'Daniel, OLB, Clemson. More linebacker reinforcement for Denver? Yep. O'Daniel isn't a sack guy, but he'll provide a youthful injection at off-ball linebacker and he can play SAM on occasion. Don't be shocked when he's a "late riser" in March and April.
27. Atlanta Falcons
Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech. Dan Quinn saw the benefits that can come when you employee a variety of tall, long cornerbacks during his time in Seattle, and he gets that type of player here in Alexander. The Virginia Tech star is nearly 6-foot-3.
28. Oakland Raiders
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Marshawn Lynch will probably have a big year in Oakland. He's only playing on a two-year deal though, and this Raiders squad has been built for the long haul. Barkley and Guice are essentially interchangable as the best back in the country, true stalwarts with NFL feature-back ability.
29. Buffalo Bills from Kansas City Chiefs
Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson. Sean McDermott's defense thrived in Carolina thanks in large part to high-quality linebacker play predicated on explosion to the football. The Bills would love to place a quick 'backer next to Preston Brown, and Joseph would be perfect. He has 17 tackles through three games and had 106 tackles a season ago.
30. Carolina Panthers
Deon Cain, WR, Clemson. Carolina needs speed in its receiving corps to complement Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Cain is around 6-foot-1 but is known for his field-stretching skills. He's currently averaging 17.9 yards per reception in his Clemson career.
31. Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis. Baltimore is an organization that prioritizes over-achieving players with high character. That's Miller, a former walk-on at Memphis. Last season, he had 95 receptions 1,314 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He's averaging 19 yards per grab thus far in 2017.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ronald Jones II, RB, USC. Let's say the Steelers don't meet Le'Veon Bell's contract demands during the 2018 offseason, and their star runner walks. That'd leave a huge hole in the backfield for Pittsburgh. While not as big as Bell, Jones II has similar game-breaking ability and has proven he can run effectively between the tackles.
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