The “long awaited” Post-Combine/Post-Free Agency 2018 1st Round Mock Draft:
1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
One of multiple picks I have staying the same from 1.0. In my opinion, and that’s all I have in this, Darnold will become the best QB in this draft. Not to say others won’t be successful either, but he will be on top. Everything on tape says he will. The concerns for him, such as throwing motion and ball security, are things that can be drastically improved with experience and pro-level coaching. If Cleveland goes Josh Allen, it wouldn’t be a “shock” but I think they would regret it long-term.
2.) MOCK TRADE: Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The multitude of reports that the Bills are trying to move up are true folks. It is confirmed by all the visits they have recently scheduled, including going to see Darnold in LA. They are doing there homework because they are willing to do whatever it takes to get a franchise QB. The one consensus I’m taking away from who that is, is that they don’t even know. I don’t think Cleveland will trade out of either of their first round picks, and besides, the Bills will want to get in front of the Jets so they can call the shots. All these picks they Bills have accumulated in the last year have been for this moment. When/If the report comes out that Cleveland is picking for sure Darnold, or on draft night when they actually do, the blueprint that is most likely already in place will come true. Bills send 12, 21, 56, 65 and next years 1st, for 2nd overall and a 4th rounder next year. While it is certainly is a lot, getting Josh Rosen as a their franchise QB will forever change this football team. Would you rather have a team with a franchise QB in place, or a loaded roster with no franchise QB? Ask the 2015 Bills that question. The concerns over Rosen’s love for football are “B.S”. He is a very smart person outside of football, and an elite playmaker on the field. His character DOES fit into the Bills long-term goals and I believe Sean McDermott is the perfect coach to help Rosen reach his potential.
3.) Trade: New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
I honestly don’t understand why the Jets moved up. Unless it was to give the Bills a headache, which I’m sure it did, I don’t get it. Todd Bowles was quoted as saying “they had their eye on 6 or 7 guys” in the first round. So why move up?? One of them were guaranteed to be there at 6 then where they were originally selecting from, and they could have kept their picks that now belong to Indy. Oh well. The Jets made the move to solidify their Quarterback position after years of uncertainty that I do get, and Baker Mayfield has all the traits to do that. Baker’s passion for winning should be a breath of fresh air for Jets fans, and the NFL will get to enjoy this QB class for years with a Rosen/Mayfield (and Jackson) AFC East rivalry.
4.) Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Cleveland has traded back in the first round so many times the past few years. This year, John Dorsey writes a new chapter, and grabs the top QB and top overall player, and hopefully they can win a game next year. I actually believe they will be decent, but I thought that last year too. Bradley Chubb and Myles Garret together will scare the (blank) out of offensive lines, and the poor QB they protect. Should be fun to watch!
5.) MOCK TRADE: Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Four QBs in the top 5 picks is a lot, but shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone following this draft closely. The amount of QB talent at the top end of the draft is rare, and thus many QB-needy teams are going to move up to avoid any surprises by the not-so needy. The only team in my opinion that addressed the franchise QB position in free agency was Minnesota, but Denver is actually a close-second. I was very impressed with Keenum this season and I feel Denver is only a few pieces away from being dominant again, therefore a trade back to get an extra 1st next year and late rounder this year make sense. Josh Allen is still a very intriguing, but confusing prospect. Just the absolute perfect QB prototype, but the film isn’t all that convincing. He makes a lot of poor decisions on the field and he is going to take a lot of time to develop. He will need expert pro-level coaching to turn into an NFL QB, so new OC Mike McCoy will have his work cut out for him. With that said there is still a ton of potential there and it easily makes him worthy of a top 5 pick. The Sam Bradford acquisition should allow the Cardinals some success while he is being developed.
6.) Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Huge position of need here in Indy and Nelson is the best OL in the class, so he fits that need well. Nelson was absolutely dominant regardless of talent level on the defensive side and should translate that success to the NFL. He gives Andrew Luck the protection he desperately needs, especially after this longstanding recovery hes been going through the past year. Perfect pick for the Colts, and they received some extra capital from the Jets in the process.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Buccaneers RB depth chart is currently one of the worst in the league. So they, along with other teams get to reap the benefits of an early QB run, and the best running back prospect, and overall offensive player, falls right into their lap. Doug Martin was absolutely brilliant in his rookie season and especially 2015, but injuries have made his tenure overall with the Bucs less successful. Now that he is off to Oakland, it is time to solidify his replacement. This pick completely changes the entire team and creates a starting offensive littered with 1st round talent in the likes of Winston, Evans, Howard, and Barkley.
8.) Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
2018 is not a great draft for Wide Receivers overall, but there is still some good talent available. With the importance of the receiver position, there could be a reach for a team who needs one. Ridley is a 1st round receiver in my opinion and will have a much greater opportunity to shine in the NFL than he did in Alabama. With the Bears’ acquisitions of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, adding Ridley to the receiver room completely changes the offense from last year. This will be a huge year for Trubisky and giving him these offensive weapons is a great help.
9.) MOCK TRADE: Seattle Seahawks: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
First, and only, mock trade I have where the team is not selecting a Quarterback. Fitzpatrick is still the elite prospect I had in the top 5 in Mock draft 1.0, but after the combine it’s clear he will be a Safety in the NFL. Safeties are very important, but are not always as coveted as CBs and thus, a minor slide. The Seahawks “Legion of Boom” is no more and it’s time to re-establish the secondary that led them to a Super Bowl title. Regardless of pro position, Fitzpatrick is a rare talent. He is a scary ball-hawk, and the Seattle fans will absolutely love his intensity. He will be a leader on their new defense and hopefully bring them back to their glory days.
10.) Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
Best Linebacker in the draft goes to a team with it being a huge position of need. Gruden loves old-school football, and there is nothing more old school than a ferocious linebacker who can absolutely pulverize opponents, while leading his new defense. They will get the Khalil Mack situation handled and those two, just on the same defense, is a scary thought.
11.) Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Georgia
Smith may be the best LB in the class, in my opinion, but Edmunds isn’t far behind. It may simply be he is so young (19) and needs more experience. But that doesn’t mean the Dolphins shouldn’t take him here. He could be a massive force against the AFC East for many, many years. Dolphins would have there defensive leader in place for a decade or more. There has been many reports of a QB in Miami, which I could see, but look for them to address that in the 2nd or 3rd round.
12.) MOCK TRADE: New York Giants: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
After the blockbuster trade back, the Giants select an extremely important position of need, with still the first overall CB off the board. A huge pick for a secondary which needs a revamp. Eli Apple has been a disappointment so far, and has caused some issues for the team. I still think he could become a solid player though, so throw Jackson in the mix of Apple and Janoris Jenkins and they have a nice starting core. Also they would have to put Jo. Jackson and Ja. Jackson on the back of the jerseys and that would be sweet.
13.) Washington Redskins: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Keeping this pick as the same as 1.0 because I really like the fit. Even more so after the trade sending Su’a Cravens to the Broncos. The Skins secondary is going to need a play-maker and James fits that role. Once seen as the number one prospect in the draft, injuries have set him back a little. If James returns to his elite level of play from earlier in college, the Redskins are getting a steal picking him here.
14.) Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
One of their biggest positions of need gets the Packers one of the best defensive players in the draft. Especially after trading Damarious Randall to the Browns, the Packers secondary is in desperate need of starting talent. Pair Ward with 2017 second rounder Kevin King, and throw in best name in football Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, all of a sudden it’s not a weak spot.
15.) MOCK TRADE: Denver Broncos: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
After trading back from the 5th pick, the Broncos pick a solid edge rusher from San Antonio. Davenport would start right away and be one of the crucial pieces needed to bring the Broncos defense back to their elite play from a season ago, and hopefully help them return to the top of the AFC West. With Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch, and Chad Kelly on the roster, I’m saying the QB visits are smokescreen, for now.
16.) Baltimore Ravens: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The 2018 NFL combine helped, and hurt, many players this season. Miller was one of those people it really helped. A big step up from 1.0, Miller becomes the first Tackle off the board. A 6’ 8”, 310 Lb prospect who ran a 4.95 40 and set the combine record for longest broad jump by an offensive lineman, doesn’t come around often. The Ravens need to bolster their line and Miller does just that. An athletic lineman with that build is too good to pass up.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Miller is an awesome prospect, but McGlinchey doesn’t fall too far behind. I actually think LAC is an extremely talented team right now and can get a huge boost from a stellar tackle like McGlinchey. If 2017 1st round pick Mike Williams has a rebound year, look at this team to make a deep run.
18.) Trade: San Francisco 49ers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
After trading back with the Hawks and getting an extra 2nd and 4th round pick out of it, the 49ers still select the best defensive tackle in the draft. Vea will pair nicely with last years first round pick Solomon Thomas. The defensive line all of a sudden looks very strong and a team with an awful start in 2017, but an unreal finish continues to improve.
19.) Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton is a great looking prospect who stays in-state and fills a huge position of need for the Cowboys. Even if the Dez Bryant fiasco is figured out and he does return with a pay cut, Sutton becomes the immediate WR2. This will help Dak immensely after a sophomore slump season.
20.) Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Even after the acquisition of LeGarrette Blount, RB is still a huge position of need here. I had him higher in 1.0, but I think Guice could realistically go anywhere from 11th overall to 2nd round. Blount has been extremely successful in years past with a tandem and having a rotational backfield of Blount, Guice, and Abdullah would turn a former weak spot, into a major strength. Maybe we could finally see Matt Stafford hit his top potential.
21.) TRADE: Cincinnati Bengals: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
First Tight End off the board goes a little earlier than 1.0, but still, the same player. Hurst may be older than most, if not all, players in this draft, but that shouldn’t shy teams away. He is still a dynamic athlete with tons of potential to becoming even better at the pro level. He should really boost what was once a promising position for the Bengals. With the uncertainty surrounding Tyler Eifert and his consistent injuries, adding Hurst would be huge for Andy Dalton. Trading back with the Bills gets them Cordy Glenn, the top tight end in the draft, and an extra 5th rounder. I’d say pretty good return.
22.) MOCK TRADE: New York Giants: Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama
After trading back and picking up a starting corner, the Giants continue the theme of bolstering the defense by picking Evans. Evans is a great prospect and like Jackson, should start immediately for the Giants. Armed with an extra 1st next year too, the Giants start to look like they received a Kings Ransom for the 2nd overall pick. So now Bills fans just need to pray it was worth it. Time will tell. Defense might win championships, but QBs will get you there.
23.) TRADE: New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
The Patriots address a huge position of need with the pick acquired from the Rams in the Brandin Cooks deal. Butler leaving in Free agency creates a huge position of need. Butler not playing in the Super Bowl, was one of the main reasons Nick Foles was able to do exploit their secondary like he did. Not saying secondary was the sole reason they lost, but it was a huge part. Mike Hughes would be a perfect compliment to Stephon Gilmore and it creates a deadly secondary.
24.) Carolina Panthers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Few people have hurt themselves as badly as Orlando Brown did in his combine. A lackluster performance in almost all events caused him to slide heavily from 1.0, but not enough to fall out of the 1st round. Brown is still absolutely massive and under the right training and dedication, could become an elite NFL starter.
25.) Tennessee Titans: Arden Key, DE, LSU
LSU has a lot of prospects I really think will make an impact in the NFL the draft this year. But in 2.0, the only other Tiger I have going in the first round besides Guice, is Key. Donte Jackson, and DJ Chark shouldn’t escape Round 2 though. Key fills a huge position of need and should absolutely be picked here by the Titans if available.
26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Falcons overall have a pretty solid lineup but there are areas which need improvement. One of the more glaring positions is Da’ Ron Payne. After a great combine and lighting up the national stage in the college championship, Payne makes his way into the first round and replaces Dontari Poe who was lost to the Panthers in Free Agency.
27.) New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
New Orleans also has an extremely talented young roster to pair with their aging, yet still HOF worthy, QB Drew Brees. While I had QB going to Saints in 1.0, I feel the Saints are in more win-now mode. Plus they already have 3 QBs on the roster of Brees, Tom Savage and Taysom Hill. Savage is out of contention but don’t write off Taysom Hill just yet. There’s a reason the Saints claimed the undeafted BYU QB last year. Anyways, Goedert gives the Saints and Drew Brees an extremely important pass-catching option. This gives Brees a chance to really open up the field with elite talent at all offensive positions. The fact that the Saints were trying to resign Jimmy Graham means they have as little of faith in Coby Fleener as I do.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, LSU
While CB is not the most pressing need on the Steelers roster. Adding Alexander into the group creates a real strong position group for the team. Alexander is an extremely athletic player, but also plays physical and aggressive. He has all the qualities to become a solid NFL starter and I feel he can really take Pittsburgh’s defense to that next level.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
After losing Allen Robinson in free agency, the Jaguars pick their new potential star in Maryland’s DJ Moore. Moore is one of the sleepers in this draft and while Maryland is a dominant program, the QB play there was too inconsistent to have an objective grade on him. The potential for Moore is huge, just like the former Terp who recently starred in a play called “The Minneapolis Miracle”.
30.) Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Vikings are another really strong team this year. (Seems to be a theme in these late first round picks, I wonder why?). I digress. Even before the signing of Cousins, the Vikings had an extremely solid roster. With few holes to plug, it’s time to protect your investment and add some first round talent to their OL. Williams has the potential to become an extremely effective NFL starter. And with their QB getting paid $84 Milliom guaranteed, it’s extrnely important he is protected. Williams will do just that, and should have a strong chance to be an immediate starter.
31.) New England Patriots: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Just enjoy this one football fans. While a very different QB than Tom Brady, Belichek has made it known he sees the potential in Jackson. The former Heisman winner was one of the most athletic QBs in college football, and will be the same in the NFL. He has a pretty good arm to go along with that, and really is the definition of a dual-threat QB. This could be tha beginning of a new age in New England and I think it would be a move that would solidly there succes again for decades. Jackson is already an athletic freak so why not have the greatest QB of all time put the polish on your accuracy and decision-making training? It’s a scary thought to me, but the Patriots could continue to be just as good for another 10-15 years with this move.
32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
The RB position closes out the first round and I have Sony Michel going over Nick Chubb. While Chubb would have been a better replacement of LeGarrette Blount, Michel is a better athlete and gives the reigning champs so many options in the backfield, along with Jay Ajayi. It would be an incredible tandem backfield and one that could easily challenge any NFL defense, all the way back to the Super Bowl.