The 2018 NFL Draft is eight months away, but the college football season begins this weekend. It’s never too early for a Mock Draft. We put out a 2018 Mock Draft on May 1st, after the 2017 draft.
1. New York Jets – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. He’s only started 10 games, and every pass he throws in 2017 will be scrutinized. But the guess here is that he’s impressive again, even if the Trojans stumble a bit.
2. Chicago Bears – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. If they end up here, the hope is the Bills/Jags/Dolphins would be willing to move up to get the QB they need. In a decent OL draft, McGlinchey (6-foot-7), who started at RT in 2015 and LT in 2016, may be the best.
3. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Missed the final six games of last season, and the two things NFL teams will be looking for this year: Leadership and how he improves with his top two RBs, WRs and an experienced offensive line returning.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. The Jaguars didn’t draft a QB last year, and this has to be Blake Bortles’ last shot. The Jags are a QB away from fielding a playoff contender.
5. Cleveland Browns – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. Just gotta pray he’s not Justin Gilbert 2.0. Some question whether Fitzpatrick is a CB or safety; perhaps he’s just a hybrid playmaker, like the Honey Badger.
6. Miami Dolphins – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Can you imagine the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Wilkins next to Ndamukong Suh? Wilkins had 13 TFL last year, and should top that this year.
7. New Orleans Saints – Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama. At some point, maybe after the Saints have drafted a dozen talented college defenders, the defense will start clicking. Just forget his arrest; Nick Saban has. Hand is my guess for SEC DPOY.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. In three of the last four years, the Ravens haven’t had an RB top 800 yards. Barkley, who could be the most talented non-QB in the entire draft, would certainly help Joe Flacco, who turns 33 in January.
9. Detroit Lions – Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College. Quietly one of the best pass rushers in the nation last year, and can play in a 4-3 or 3-4.
10. Cincinnati Bengals – Derwin James, CB, Florida State. There was outrage when I put him at the end of the 1st round in May. FSU fans may be upset at this. But he only played six quarters last season and is returning from a knee injury. If healthy, he’s Top 5 material.
11. LA Rams – Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State. There may be a need at WR if they don’t retain Sammy Watkins, but let’s see how the rebuilt line holds up. They’ve got to at least give Jared Goff a chance.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Connor Williams, OT, Texas. There will be a bigger spotlight on the Longhorns this year with Tom Herman coaching, and Williams is the guy to watch. Andrew Luck could definitely use a 6-foot-6 weak side protector like Williams, who wasn’t a Top 200 recruit out of high school.
16. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. After dumping Sammy Watkins, the Bills are extremely thin at WR. No QB, new WR? It feels like the start of something in Buffalo, especially with all 2018 picks they’re grabbing.
17. Washington Redskins – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. I’m a major doubter of Big 12 QBs in the NFL, but the Redskins will be in the market for a QB if Kirk Cousins leaves and isn’t franchise tagged (again).
18. New York Giants – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Son of the former Ravens/Browns tackle is 6-foot-8, 340 pounds. The Giants lack of running game and struggles protecting Eli Manning will be reasons 1 and 2 the Giants miss the playoffs.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State. The Falcons have a pass rusher in Vic Beasley; let’s see what Brooks Reed and Courtney Upshaw can do this season. Yes, the Buckeyes line is good enough to have two players drafted in the Top 20.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. The Bucs have playoff talent, it’ll come down to the line holding up and Jameis Winston not throwing interceptions. Alexander could slide in for 34-year old Brent Grimes. He also excels at returning punts.
21. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans). Deon Cain, WR, Clemson. Big play receiver the last two years (14 TDs) playing in the shadows of stars. Can he be the man this year with a new QB and establish himself as a 1st round pick?
22. Dallas Cowboys: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Hopefully Taco Charlton has a monster rookie year, and then they can find his bookend in Chubb, who terrorized ACC QBs (and Notre Dame, too – 3.5 TFL, 3 sacks) last year.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State. There’s a need in the secondary. Let’s see how McFadden does in the opener Saturday vs. Alabama’s Ridley.
24. Oakland Raiders – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. One of the most anticipated players in the country following his 7.6 ypc, 15-TD season while backing up Leonard Fournette. The Raiders may need to improve the offensive line, but Marshawn Lynch may only last one season.
25. Los Angeles Chargers – Damon Webb, S, Ohio State. Let’s see how the offensive line holds up this season, but the front seven is certainly coming around. Both safety positions could use an upgrade.
26. Arizona Cardinals. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. With Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring after this season, you’ve got to assume if they can’t land a star in free agency, the rebuild will begin through the draft. Washington has 2,467 yards and 20 TDs in the last two years, albeit in the pass-happy Big 12.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. One of those big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), rangy safeties who can cover and stop the run.
28. Carolina Panthers – Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama. Jonathan Stewart signed a 1-year deal, which may double as a placeholder for the Tide’s battering ram.
29. Seattle Seahawks – Arden Key, OLB, LSU. Had an eventful offseason and briefly left the Tigers, then had surgery. Will miss the season opener vs BYU. The talent is certainly there, though.
30. New England Patriots – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. Had very good games against Penn State and Florida State, and will be one of the few experienced guys on the Wolverines defense. The Patriots love to blow up mock drafts by doing something wacky.
31. Tennessee Titans – Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. He’s a 6-foot-3, 240-pound heat-seeking missile. Production hasn’t matched the hype yet, though. Yes, I have the Titans losing the Super Bowl.
32. Green Bay Packers – Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon. Let’s see how Ty Montgomery holds up. And if the rookies are ready. Freeman is a plug-and-play record-setter.