2018 NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Final Edition

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.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2018 NFL Draft Super Mock

NFL_draft_header

With draft week finally upon us, I am pleased to present my 2018 NFL Draft Super Mock. For this exercise, I went on the clock for all 32 teams across all seven rounds to make all 256 selections. These projections are based on the official draft order and my impression of team needs heading into the draft, and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios.


2018 NFL Draft Super Mock


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: New League Year Edition

Players and picks are on the move, and as team needs continue to evolve in the new league year with signings, trades, and releases, I am pleased to present my 2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0. These first-round projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of April 3, and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios.

1 | Cleveland Browns — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Reports suggest the Browns are still considering their quarterback options with the first overall pick. This round goes to Allen.

2 | New York Giants — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
If the Browns take Allen first, expect Darnold to go immediately thereafter, possibly to the Giants, but more likely to a team paying a heavy price to trade up.

3 | New York Jets — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets could potentially be in the position to take the second quarterback off the board, but more likely they’ll need to be content with the third—in this case, Mayfield.

4 | Cleveland Browns — Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Back on the clock, the Browns have their choice of positional players and elect to bookend last year’s top pass rusher Myles Garrett with this year’s in Chubb.

5 | Denver Broncos — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Broncos opt to surround new starting quarterback Case Keenum with weapons, bringing in the best ball carrier in the draft for instant offense.

6 | Indianapolis Colts — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
A surprise move, but the Colts are talent-deficient at multiple positions and have a sneaky need at linebacker.

7 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Buccaneers fortified their defensive front with veterans, now they need a young lion to roam in the secondary.

8 | Chicago Bears — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Bears can afford to upgrade their offensive line, and there’s no better value to be had than the draft’s best blocker and top overall prospect.

9 | San Francisco 49ers — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
With a veteran mentor in Richard Sherman and a versatile talent like Fitzpatrick to build around, the 49ers secondary would appear to be in excellent hands.

10 | Oakland Raiders — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
If Ward happens to still be available, the Raiders might have to entertain investing another high pick into a secondary that’s filled with them.

11 | Miami Dolphins — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
In Edmunds, the Dolphins might finally have the solution for their seemingly perpetual need at linebacker.

12 | Buffalo Bills — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Bills are the team most likely to trade up for a quarterback, but in this scenario, they sit tight and still happen to land Rosen.

13 | Washington Redskins — Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Known for a pass-first approach, the Redskins take a page from their NFC East rivals who have found more success by running the football.

14 | Green Bay Packers — Marcus Davenport, RSH, UTSA
With their sack production trending down, the Packers grab the edge rusher who checks all the boxes for physical tools and upside.

15 | Arizona Cardinals — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The ageless Larry Fitzgerald continues to produce at a high level for the Cardinals, but a sidekick and eventual successor is needed.

16 | Baltimore Ravens — D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
After landing Michael Crabtree and John Brown in free agency, the Ravens add an explosive playmaker in Moore to complete their receiver corps rebuild.

17 | Los Angeles Chargers — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Chargers have a fierce outside rush, but they could use some help inside to help stop the run and push the pocket.

18 | Seattle Seahawks — Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
The Seahawks will need to replace a number of familiar names on defense. Oliver fits the profile of what they look for in the secondary.

19 | Dallas Cowboys — Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Cowboys, specifically defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, put Bryan to the test during Florida’s Pro Day, and might see him as an ideal fit at the three-technique.

20 | Detroit Lions — James Daniels, C, Iowa
Currently short a starting center, the Lions could look at adding a plug-and-play pivot like Daniels in lieu of shuffling blockers around.

21 | Cincinnati Bengals — Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
The Bengals traded for Cordy Glenn, but drafting a dominant blocker like Wynn to insert at guard, or potentially tackle, isn’t out of the question.

22 | Buffalo Bills — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
If the Bills don’t package this pick in a trade up, the ascending Vander Esch could be in play to fill the void at linebacker.

23 | New England Patriots — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Patriots just acquired this pick from the Rams, and with a need at offensive tackle, take the first anchor off the board.

24 | Carolina Panthers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Panthers have made modest secondary investments in free agency, but Jackson would give them a true ballhawk on the boundary.

25 | Tennessee Titans — Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
With former starter Avery Williamson signing with the Jets, Evans fills the immediate opening the Titans have at inside linebacker.

26 | Atlanta Falcons — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Falcons defensive front took a hit when Dontari Poe defected to division rival Carolina, so Payne makes sense as the next man up.

27 | New Orleans Saints — Harold Landry, RSH, Boston College
The Saints are in the market for another pass rusher and Landry has the speed and athleticism to get to the quarterback with frequency.

28 | Pittsburgh Steelers — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Alexander would primarily be a value selection for the Steelers, but would serve to elevate their overall talent level at the cornerback position.

29 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Jaguars signed top free-agent guard Andrew Norwell, but an upgrade for the opposite side should still be a consideration.

30 | Minnesota Vikings — Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
With a number of contracts coming up for their league-leading defense, the Vikings might need to start putting new pieces in place.

31 | New England Patriots — Sam Hubbard, RSH, Ohio State
Hubbard might not project to have the ceiling of other edge defenders, but he’s a pro-ready prospect and the type of scheme-versatile player the Patriots tend to favor.

32 | Philadelphia Eagles — Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
The Eagles parted with a pair of tight ends this offseason and they could deploy the athletic Gesicki in a variety of ways.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Combine Edition

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books and the official open of free agency fast approaching, I am pleased to present my 2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0. These first-round projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of March 10, and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios.

1 | Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Even with the trade for Tyrod Taylor, quarterback remains the target of preference for the beleaguered Browns. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have seemingly pulled ahead of the pack, and while the big-armed Allen was the top pick in my 1.0 mock draft, in this scenario, the high-ceilinged Darnold is the first passer off the board.

2 | New York Giants — Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
It’s extremely rare for a guard to be in consideration this high, but Nelson is the best player in this draft class and has the makings of a perennial All-Pro. That said, would the Giants really pass on a chance to draft a QB of the future to put Big Q in Big Blue? Who says they aren’t already convinced?

3 | Indianapolis Colts — Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
In this scenario, the Colts could be fielding calls from any number of teams coming up to chase a quarterback. But, assuming they stand in to make the pick, it’s practically a lock that they tab the pro-ready Chubb to be their new franchise pass rusher.

4 | Cleveland Browns — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Back on the clock, the Browns follow the blueprint for providing their newly-drafted quarterback the best chance for success, bringing in the freakishly-athletic, aptly-named Barkley to be their new feature back.

5 | Denver Broncos — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
After banking twice on strong-armed, statuesque college quarterbacks whose traits didn’t translate to NFL starting quarterback, the Broncos take a different approach by drafting Mayfield, who has the resume, personality, and play to be the new top guy in Mile High.

6 | New York Jets — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets have had their fair share of quarterback woes in recent years. With Rosen, generally considered the best pure passer and most NFL-ready signal caller in this draft, Gang Green gets another chance, and perhaps their best yet, to get it right.

7 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
The Buccaneers are the beneficiaries of the way the draft plays out in this scenario, with Fitzpatrick, possibly the top overall defender, falling right into their lap. Taking the versatile corner-safety hybrid would be a step in the right direction to improve their league-worst defense.

8 | Chicago Bears — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Placing the transition tag on Kyle Fuller, the Bears have seemingly secured one starting cornerback position, but a void remains opposite the former first-rounder. Enter Ward, who has the blazing speed, exceptional technique, and elite coverage skills to develop into a lockdown pass defender.

9 | San Francisco 49ers — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Winning the coin toss at the Combine, the 49ers not only win the right to draft ahead of the Raiders, but the inside track to draft the top linebacker prospect in Roquan Smith. A blue-chip defender on his own, he also serves as a valuable insurance policy if off-field issues sideline Reuben Foster.

10 | Oakland Raiders — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Jon Gruden inherits a Raiders team without a proven difference-maker anchoring the interior defensive line. That changes with the addition of Vea, a 350-pound powerhouse who manhandles blockers and possesses movement skills that you wouldn’t expect from a player his size.

11 | Miami Dolphins — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Having just agreed to trade top receiver Jarvis Landry, lacking a true feature back, and tracking toward a change at quarterback, the Dolphins offense is now effectively one big question mark. Assuming the current regime has the green light to reload, bringing in Josh Allen and his cannon arm to groom behind a veteran passer makes sense.

12 | Cincinnati Bengals — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The linebacker position is arguably the weakest link of the Bengals defense, and after repeated free-agent fixes through the years, it could be time to draft a stud defender for the second level. The Combine proved to be a showcase for the rising Edmunds, whose best football is ahead of him.

13 | Washington Redskins — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Washington has become known for having a potent passing attack, and while it remains to be seen if that continues with Alex Smith now at the helm, a clear-cut WR1 would certainly help. The consensus top receiver on the board, Ridley is a pro-ready primary target with speed, route savvy, and the ability to separate.

14 | Green Bay Packers — Harold Landry, RSH, Boston College
All signs point to the Packers taking a defender, specifically a pass rusher, with their first-round pick. They opt for the explosive, edge-capturing Boston College product, who bounced back from an injury-hampered senior season to put on an outstanding showing at the Combine.

15 | Arizona Cardinals — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Cardinals will make a run at a quarterback in free agency or the draft, but most likely both. Depending on how satisfied they are with the veteran they land, their first round pick could be reserved for another position. A Combine standout, Alexander could be the long-sought solution for CB2 opposite Patrick Peterson.

16 | Baltimore Ravens — D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Ravens have made do with a pedestrian corps of receivers, but it’s time to add a high-caliber weapon in the passing game. Moore’s tape is convincing enough to make him a first-round pick, but measuring bigger, running faster, and simply dominating the testing and drills at the Combine has put him in the conversation for WR1 in this draft.

17 | Los Angeles Chargers — Derwin James, S, Florida State
Once a franchise carried by the arm of QB Philip Rivers, the Chargers are rapidly accumulating stud defenders and putting them to work. James would be the choice here if he is somehow still on the board, as he has the physical tools, the athletic traits, and the leadership qualities to play all over the field and set the tone for his unit, if not the entire team.

18 | Seattle Seahawks — Marcus Davenport, RSH, UTSA
Seattle suddenly has the appearance of a team that is dangerously close to going full rebuild, specifically on the defensive side of the football. While cornerback is a strong consideration, it’s not everyday that you have an edge prospect with the athletic profile and sky-high ceiling of Davenport there for the taking.

19 | Dallas Cowboys — Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Knowing the Cowboys like I do, if the draft were to fall this way, I would not be surprised at all if they attempted to bail out of 19. If they were to indeed stand in and pick, plugging in a mauling man-mountain like Hernandez at LG to beef up their celebrated offensive line could be an option.

20 | Detroit Lions — Ronald Jones, RB, USC
The Lions have managed to be mildly successful in recent years without even a semblance of a running game. While he isn’t the biggest back, Jones has the big-play potential as a runner and receiver to be the ideal backfield fit for a team that leans heavily on Matthew Stafford and the passing game.

21 | Buffalo Bills — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
22 | Buffalo Bills — James Daniels, C, Iowa
After trading Tyrod Taylor, who the Bills only ever seemed to be begrudgingly comfortable with as their starting quarterback, it would shock no one to see one, or perhaps both, of these selections leveraged in a move up to take one of the top four quarterback prospects. That said, assuming they sign a veteran QB, still like Nathan Peterman enough, or are content to seek a developmental passer on Day 2 or 3, solidifying the trenches could be in order. Payne came to compete at the Combine and put up some pretty impressive numbers for an athlete his size. Meanwhile, Daniels is a ready-made starting center who would fill the void created by the retirement of Eric Wood.

23 | Los Angeles Rams — Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Rams have been very active just ahead of free agency, agreeing to trades for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, while deciding to part ways with pass rusher Robert Quinn and linebacker Alec Ogletree. Grabbing a young, affordable front-seven defender could be a consideration, but adding Williams to an offensive line group where no player is locked up long-term makes sense as well.

24 | Carolina Panthers — Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Despite trading for Torrey Smith, wide receiver remains an early consideration for the Panthers. Sutton is relatively raw, but has the tools teams look for in a WR1, with prototypical size, sure hands, and playmaking ability after the catch. With talented weapons around him, Carolina could scheme to his strengths as he develops.

25 | Tennessee Titans — Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Defense might be the first-round play for new head coach Mike Vrabel, but the value could be in fortifying the interior offensive line between bookend tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin. A college tackle with the power and athleticism to slide inside, Wynn checks all the boxes to be a plug-and-play starter at guard.

26 | Atlanta Falcons — Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
It’s fair to say the Falcons now boast the fast, physical defense head coach Dan Quinn mastered in Seattle, but one role funneled down the pipeline from the Pacific Northwest that has yet to be filled is a rangy, single-high safety to patrol the back end. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bates sneak into the first round as a potential fit.

27 | New Orleans Saints — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Saints hit the jackpot in last year’s draft and, if not for the Minnesota Miracle, just might have translated that influx of talent into a Lombardi Trophy. With an electric athlete like Jackson available and possibly the perfect situation for him to develop and deliver on his amazing upside, could they have the magic touch again?

28 | Pittsburgh Steelers — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
With Ryan Shazier sidelined by a career-threatening spinal injury, linebacker is at the top of the list of needs for Pittsburgh. Vander Esch is a rising prospect, and one to whom the Steelers have been heavily linked. Considering his tape, his Combine exploits, and the mutual affinity between the player and the organization, it seems almost a perfect match.

29 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
The Jaguars locked up quarterback Blake Bortles through 2020, and with that commitment, could look to continue to add pieces around him. But, if he happens to still be on the board, they might be hard-pressed to pass on Hughes, a top-tier cornerback who could make their shutdown secondary airtight.

30 | Minnesota Vikings — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Now expected to go all in on free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Vikings could find themselves having to make some tough decisions financially, particularly on defense. Being able to backfill the cornerback position, for one, with a tall, talented ballhawk like Jackson could help make the process a little more palatable.

31 | New England Patriots — Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
If the Patriots pass on bringing back free-agent tackle Nate Solder, drafting a suitable replacement could be on the table as the first round comes to a close. McGlinchey might not meet the lofty standard of franchise left tackle, but he’s a quality football player with the pro-ready frame, technique, and football IQ to be an immediate starter.

32 | Philadelphia Eagles — Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Eagles have continued to be active in the trade market, both acquiring and jettisoning players, and with their roster depth and shortage of picks, it’s possible that will continue leading up to the draft. Provided that they don’t wheel and deal for a linebacker or part ways with the pick, the hard-hitting Evans could find himself heading to Philadelphia.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX