The 2018 NFL Draft will finally commence on Thursday night, and as much as we all want to think we know about how the first round will unfold, history tells us that there will be selections that surprise, players that unexpectedly rise and fall, and unpredictable trades that lay waste to our best-laid mock draft plans.
Taking this all into consideration, I am pleased to present my 4.0 and final 2018 NFL Mock Draft. These first-round projections are intended to represent a possible sequence of events that I believe could occur—including potential trade scenarios.
1 | Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
All of the pre-draft smokescreens clear to reveal Darnold as Cleveland’s choice for their quarterback of the future.
2 | New York Giants — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Giants have been speculated as a suitor for Darnold, but if the Browns steal him away, we might find out that their love for Barkley is real.
3 | New York Jets — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Broadway Baker has a nice ring to it, but the polarizing Rosen just might be the better football fit for Gang Green.
4 | Buffalo Bills (via CLE) — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
* TRADE * The Bills package their two first-round picks, next year’s first, and possibly more to jump up for the chance to draft the big-armed Allen.
5 | Denver Broncos — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Depending on their quarterback preference, the Broncos could end up shopping for a trade, but this scenario assumes that they covet—or are content with—Mayfield.
6 | Cleveland Browns (via IND) — Bradley Chubb, RSH, North Carolina State
* TRADE * The Colts might love Chubb, but if the Browns come calling with the two first-round picks acquired from Buffalo, that could be enough to sway them.
7 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Derwin James, S, Florida State
James to Tampa has been proclaimed the worst-kept secret in the NFL leading up to draft day. Will it hold true?
8 | Chicago Bears — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Nelson to Chicago has been one of the most popular player-to-team projections this draft season. It almost makes too much sense.
9 | San Francisco 49ers — Harold Landry, RSH, Boston College
The 49ers could target one of the top linebackers, but with a seemingly desperate need for an impact edge rusher, they strike while they can.
10 | Oakland Raiders — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
The talented Fitzpatrick just might slide—right into a reunion with his former secondary coach at Alabama, now on staff with the Raiders.
11 | Miami Dolphins — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Miami is a team that could go in multiple directions, but it would be difficult to pass on arguably the top cover corner in the draft.
12 | Indianapolis Colts (via BUF through CLE) — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
* TRADE * With the first of their two firsts acquired from the Browns, the Colts acquire the centerpiece for new DC Matt Eberflus’ defense.
13 | Arizona Cardinals (via WAS) — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
* TRADE * With the electric Jackson within striking distance, the Cardinals swoop in before another team can beat them to the punch.
14 | Green Bay Packers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Green Bay secondary needs more reinforcements and Jackson fits the profile they look for on the perimeter.
15 | Washington Redskins (via ARZ) — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
* TRADE * After trading back with the Cardinals, Washington beefs up the belly of their defense to counter the run game of their NFC East rivals.
16 | Baltimore Ravens — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Call it an upset if a Ravens team with a pipeline from Alabama and a need for offensive weapons passes on the pro-ready Ridley.
17 | Los Angeles Chargers — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Defense is a strong possibility, but drafting the plug-and-play McGlinchey to stabilize their offensive line has to be a consideration for the Chargers.
18 | New England Patriots (via SEA) — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
* TRADE * Vander Esch to Dallas has become mandate in the draft community, but New England might have eyes on him, too—and the early-round ammo to move up.
19 | Dallas Cowboys — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Cowboys miss out on one of their most publicized targets in Vander Esch, but ultimately opt for the even more highly-touted Edmunds, who somehow slides.
20 | Detroit Lions — Marcus Davenport, RSH, UTSA
The Lions secured the services of Ezekiel Ansah for the year with the franchise tag, but still bring in Davenport to be his eventual replacement.
21 | Cincinnati Bengals — James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Bengals continue overhauling their offensive line by adding the draft’s top center prospect in Daniels.
22 | Indianapolis Colts (via BUF through CLE) — Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
* TRADE * With the second of their two firsts acquired from the Browns, the Colts look to fortify their offensive front with the versatile Wynn.
23 | Seattle Seahawks (via NE) — Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
* TRADE * After trading down, offensive line and defense will be strong considerations for the Seahawks, but Guice might give them Beast Mode flashbacks.
24 | Pittsburgh Steelers (via CAR) — Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
* TRADE * With their sights on Evans, the Steelers feel a sense of urgency to trade up to ensure they don’t lose him to Tennessee.
25 | Tennessee Titans — Lorenzo Carter, RSH, Georgia
Wiped out at inside linebacker here, the Titans could turn their attention the edge, possibly banking on the upside of the athletic Carter.
26 | Atlanta Falcons — Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons need help on their defensive front and seem to like what they see—or what could be—in the flashy, disruptive Bryan.
27 | New Orleans Saints — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Saints could look at taking the first tight end off the board, but adding Payne to upgrade their interior defense would be very tempting.
28 | Carolina Panthers (via PIT) — D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
* TRADE * Offensive line and cornerback are areas of need, but to trade back and still land the explosive Moore would be a win for Carolina.
29 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Hernandez would be a natural fit for the Jaguars’ punishing run game and an excellent value pick late in the first round.
30 | Minnesota Vikings — Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Also playable at guard, Ragnow’s draft stock has skyrocketed recently—could he crash the first round en route to his home state of Minnesota?
31 | New England Patriots — Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
It’s a popular comparison and connection, but if Miller is to be Nate Solder 2.0 for the Patriots, they’ll almost certainly have to take him in the first.
32 | Philadelphia Eagles — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Eagles have taken a couple of hits to their secondary in the offseason, so they would probably welcome the opportunity to steal Alexander to close the round.