The 2018 NFL Draft is once again expected to be loaded with talented players. While picks won’t be made for another two months, it’s never too early for a mock draft. Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma should be a high pick , as will be Sam Darnold of USC. The first round of the draft is pretty much set as well.
This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers going in the top 10. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could be selected in the top 5.
NFL mock draft 2018: First-round projections, top players
- Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
- New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Rosen vs. Darnold has been a debate for more than a year in Southern California. Now it carries on into the NFL offseason. The UCLA quarterback might be better wired than Darnold to succeed in New York.
- Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: While Minkah Fitzpatrick is the better prospect, defensive end is the bigger need for the Colts. An offensive lineman, such as Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, could also be a target.
- Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
- Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Offensive line could be the pick here. Drafting Allen is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league. Allen did well in the Senior Bowl, showing why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.
- New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: With the up-and-down Doug Martin now released, why not give Jameis Winston a new weapon and see if he really is your franchise quarterback? Defensive end is another area of need.
- Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, I think Kirk is a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
- *San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available. As weird as it is to say that is a guard, Nelson is just special.
- *Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: A defense featuring Khalil Mack shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was in 2017. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
- Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU : Nelson could be an option, but instead the Dolphins will take Key. While he might have off-field concerns, the LSU product also has the potential to be an elite pass rusher. Marcus Davenport of UTSA could also get a look here after a strong Senior Bowl.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame : The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or Notre Dame teammate Nelson, could be an option.
- Washington Redskins: Derwin James, DB, FSU: Washington has its quarterback of the near future with Alex Smith. Now, look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
- Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Secondary is still a huge area of need for the Packers. It’ll either be Jackson or Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft.
- Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, T, Texas: Quarterback is Arizona’s biggest need. The Cardinals could reach for Mason Rudolph … or drastically improve their offensive line with the selection of Williams.
- Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama : The Chargers had the second-worst rush defense in the league last season. Payne will help them improve — look at the way he took over the College Football Playoff.
- Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice would make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round. Seattle could also look at the secondary, given that the Legion of Boom is getting old.
- Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
- Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: Running back could be an option here, but Edmunds fits a similar role to what Anthony Barr does for Minnesota. He could be a big riser come the NFL combine.
- Buffalo Bills: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills need to improve wide receiver, too.
- Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, DT, Washington: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Vea to fill his void.
- Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could also help on the interior.
- Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: With Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers getting up there in age, Davenport is the perfect project to step in and eventually take over.
- Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary this time around. The Titans also could target a pass rusher, but with Mike Varbel now in charge, the Ohio State connection makes this too easy.
- Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia: Wynn had a great senior season with Georgia and then followed it up with a dominant Senior Bowl. Given the Falcons’ struggles on the interior of the offensive line, he’s a player who makes a lot of sense here.
- New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College: Cam Jordan had a fantastic season for the Saints, but the defense still has some holes in the front seven. Adding Landry gives them another dynamic pass rusher.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting doubt on his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very good.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will need to have a strong NFL combine to solidify this ranking after he missed the Senior Bowl with a foot injury.
- Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did in 2017 for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
- New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to current Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Plus, pass rusher is a huge need for New England.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, G, Auburn: Fresh off winning the Super Bowl, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Offensive line is one given that a number of key players are starting to get up there in age.
*49ers & Raiders tied; coin toss will determine order for picks 9 & 10
2018 NFL Draft: First-round order
1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston)
5. Denver Broncos
6. New York Jets
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
9./10. San Francisco 49ers / Oakland Raiders (coin flip)
11. Miami Dolphins
12. Cincinnati Bengals
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
21. Buffalo Bills
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City)
23. Los Angeles Rams
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
31. New England Patriots
32. Philadelphia Eagles
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