Way-too-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft: It's all about the franchise quarterbacks
Unlike 2017, the 2018 NFL Draft will be about QB-needy teams finally getting their guy
If there's one thing we've learned from covering the NFL is that there truly is no offseason. Put another way: It's never too early for a mock draft, even if the previous year's draft concluded weeks ago and we still have training camp, the regular season, the playoffs and another Super Bowl -- never mind the combine and all the predraft workouts -- before the 2018 NFL Draft officially arrives.
With that in mind, let's get to it.
Oh, one more thing -- and perhaps most importantly for those of you who are angry because of where your team is in the draft order, please know: We're just using SportsLine's projected win totals for the 2017 season to set the draft order.
Sam Darnold, QB, USC: It's taken nearly 20 years but the Browns finally get their franchise quarterback. They were smart to not force the issue in 2017, when they ended up with pass rusher Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku in the first round.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Like the Browns, the 49ers were patient during the 2017 NFL Draft and now they're rewarded with a legit franchise quarterback -- assuming, of course, Kyle Shanahan doesn't find a way to get Kirk Cousins to San Francisco.
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Seeing a trend here? In a league where the most important position is also incredibly difficult to fill, the Jets aren't waiting around. Allen is the Day 1 starter because, well, why not?
Arden Key, DE, LSU: A difference-maker on the edge, the Bears continue to rebuild their defense. Quarterback isn't an option here because the team traded up for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State: The Dolphins remain on the search for a No. 1 cornerback and McFadden can be just that. He had eight interceptions last season and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he has the size and athleticism to dominate.
Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State: He had 10 sacks last season and has the versatility to be a three-down player, kicking inside in nickel packages.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: As a redshirt sophomore, Sutton had 76 catches for 1,246 yards and 10 scores. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he's a difference-maker anywhere on the field.
11. Buffalo Bills
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: The Bills didn't pick up Sammy Watkins' fifth-year option and Washington is a bona fide deep threat; he has 124 catches of at least 20 yards during his last two college seasons.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Eagles were in the market for a running back early in the 2016 NFL Draft, but the board didn't fall their way. They get that running back this time around.
15. Denver Broncos
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: Is Kick Cousins staying? Is he going? The Redskins cover their bases by drafting Rudolph, who has 55 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in college.
17. New York Giants
18. Tennessee Titans
Vita Vea, DT, Washington: The Titans could have needs along the defensive line and Vea is a massive human being with surprising quickness who registered five sacks last season.
19. Oakland Raiders
Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State: He had six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss as a junior, and is just as strong against the run.
Luke Falk, QB, Washington State: There was some speculation that the Cardinals might address the quarterback position in 2017. It didn't happen, but with Carson Palmer's career winding down, Falk makes a lot of sense.
Connor Williams, OT, Texas: An All-American last season as a sophomore, Williams has a chance to be the best lineman in the draft with another strong showing.
22. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans)
Deon Cain, WR, Clemson: New franchise quarterback Sam Darnold gets a new downfield weapon. Cain enters his junior season with 74 catches for 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson: He was a huge part of Clemson's national title game victory over Alabama and should be among the draft's top offensive linemen in a year's time.
26. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs)
Marcus Allen, S, Penn State: A playmaker in the Nittany Lions' secondary last season, Allen would add youth and athleticism to a Bills defensive backfield.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Tyquan Lewis, DE/OLB, Ohio State: You can never have too many pass rushers, so even after taking Taco Charlton in the first round in 2017, the Cowboys are back at it in '18.
28. Atlanta Falcons
Josh Sweat, DE/OLB, Florida State: Just like the Cowboys above, the Falcons are happy to take another pass rusher, even though they drafted Takk McKinley in the first round last month.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh: Mike Mitchell has two years left on his contract and Whitehead could be the player the Steelers were hoping to get if Jabrill Peppers had still been on the board in 2017.
31. Seattle Seahawks
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: As long as Tom Brady keeps playing, the Patriots should keep giving him weapons. At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Kirk could be the eventual replacement for Julian Edelman and/or Danny Amendola.
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