Super-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Get ready for top quarterbacks to go 1-2-3
The Browns, Jets and 49ers find their franchise QBs of the future in a 2018 class loaded with passers
It's never too early to start thinking about next year. Sure, the 2018 NFL Draft has to wait for an entire season and a free agency period to play out, but that doesn't mean we can't get in on the speculation and start looking at what might happen by the time it finally does roll around. Of course, this is more of an academic exercise than anything else, as there's a whole lot that will happen between now and late April 2018, but we can have some fun anyway.
Without further ado, let's take a look at how things might go down. As for the actual draft order, we're using SportsLine's projected win totals to set teams in their slots.
1. Cleveland Browns (1-15)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: There will be debates all year over which of the consensus top three quarterbacks should go No. 1 overall. Each has their legitimate arguments, but the bet here for now is that Allen winds up at the top of the heap.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Brian Hoyer is a nice stop-gap option for the 49ers, but if they wind up with another top pick in a QB-heavy class, it seems safe to bet on John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan taking the plunge.
3. New York Jets (5-11)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC: The Jets didn't have the best luck the last time they drafted a quarterback out of USC, but Darnold showed more talent during his first year as the starter than Mark Sanchez ever did. They'll be thrilled if he drops to No. 3.
4. Los Angeles Rams (4-12)
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: If Jared Goff is ever going to develop into the franchise passer the Rams want him to be, they need to give him some help in the pass-catcher department. Tavon Austin and Robert Woods aren't going to cut it.
5. Chicago Bears (3-13)
Arden Key, DE, LSU: The Bears picked their quarterback of the future in 2017. When next year rolls around, they grab a top pass-rusher to pair with Leonard Floyd on the outside, giving the bears a dynamic duo on which to build their defense.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
Derwin James, SS, Florida State: The Chargers drafted two safeties in the middle rounds of the 2017 draft but neither is the type of two-way (run and pass) playmaker that James is. Given all the multi-defensive back sets teams use these days, it'd be pretty easy to get all three of them on the field at the same time pretty often anyway.
7. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State: McFadden is a perimeter playmaker of the highest order, having stepped in and picked off eight passes in Year 1 as a starter. Miami's secondary still needs work, and adding a talent like this would go a long way toward helping.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: The Bucs gave Jameis Winston a lot of help during the 2017 offseason. In 2018, they start stacking defensive talent by giving Gerald McCoy a versatile partner on the interior.
9. Detroit Lions (9-7)
Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas: The Lions still need someone that can act as the complement to Ezekiel Ansah in their pass-rush. Jefferson is one of the best in the nation at getting after the quarterback, even if he struggled hitting home a bit last season.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
11. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Rudolph's top target comes off the board with the very next pick. With Sammy Watkins' future in Buffalo in doubt after the team didn't pick up his fifth-year option, the Bills could very much be in play for a wideout next year.
12. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama: The Colts' defensive spending spree this offseason was a good first step toward fixing what has been the team's weak link for years, but they still need to address the back end. Alabama defensive players often come with some physical question marks, but their safeties have done a good job translating to the NFL and Fitzpatrick is a high-level talent.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Philadelphia's efforts to make their offense Wentz-friendly started this offseason and continues next year. Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount should be ready to move on by then, and pairing Barkley with 2017 pick Donnel Pumphrey would make for a really nice one-two punch.
14. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: The guess here is that the Saints will once again need to invest a high pick in a defensive player. They went corner early with Marshon Lattimore in 2017; next year, they go pass rush.
15. Denver Broncos (9-7)
Vita Vea, DT, Washington: The strength of the Broncos is their defense, and here, they upgrade the front by taking a huge run-stuffer that can occupy blockers and get some push into the backfield on his own.
16. Washington Redskins (8-7-1)
17. New York Giants (11-5)
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: The Giants no doubt saw how much success their division rival Cowboys had by drafting a former Notre Dame tackle in Zack Martin, and they do the same by taking McGlinchey here.
18. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist: Corey Davis was the Titans' top pick in 2017. They signed Eric Decker after he was released from the Jets as well, but they're going to need somebody to pair with Davis over the long-term to give Marcus Mariota the kind of weapons he needs to take the next step in his development.
19. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Marshawn Lynch experiment comes to an end after one year, as injuries and time away from football lead to an OK but not great season. Here, the Raiders draft a long-term complement to the Derek Carr-led passing game.
20. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
21. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State: Cincinnati went offense early (John Ross, Joe Mixon) and pass-rusher in the middle rounds (Derek Willis, Carl Lawson) in 2017, so when 2018 rolls around they look to add a big boy for the interior defensive line.
22. Cleveland Browns (1-15) from Houston Texans
Deon Cain, WR, Clemson: A pass-catching trio of Cain, Corey Coleman and David Njoku is a nice way to provide Josh Allen with a security blanket as he makes his transition to the NFL. There's speed, athleticism and crazy after-catch ability all over the field.
23. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Marcus Allen, FS, Penn State: The Vikes love loading up on defensive backs and Allen is a good one. He has the type of versatility to play inside and out on the back end, which should help in multi-defensive back packages.
24. Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Connor Williams, OT, Texas: The Panthers gave Cam Newton some more diverse options in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, but he's going to need to be well-protected in order to get them the ball. Carolina's been skimping on the O-Line for a while now, and they finally invest heavily with a tackle pick here.
25. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson: The Packers lost a couple offensive linemen this offseason and while they have other players stepping in this year, they may look into adding a higher-level talent when they come on the board in 2018.
26. Buffalo Bills (7-9) from Kansas City Chiefs
Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State: The Bills use their second pick of the first round to beef up their pass rush, which will help the back end of the defense display its coverage skills on a more consistent basis.
27. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State: The 2017 draft saw the Cowboys pick up a pass-rusher from Michigan, and they stay in the Big Ten by turning to the rival Buckeyes for another one. Lewis and Taco Charlton both have good size and a knack for making plays in the backfield, and the Cowboys will benefit from pairing them together.
28. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
29. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
31. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
32. New England Patriots (14-2)
Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama: Bill Belichick takes an athletic defender that play for his buddy Nick Saban and turns him into an impact player. The rich just get richer.
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