2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

It’s been about two weeks since I debuted my first mock of next month’s NFL draft, and during those two weeks, things have happened via trades and free-agency that will undoubtedly change the way I expected things to develop. Here goes my updated version.

1. Cleveland Browns – QB Sam Darnold (USC)
First Mock: (QB Sam Darnold USC)

I’m sticking with Darnold #1 overall for the same reasons I stated originally. In a deep quarterback class the USC product is the most polished of the bunch, and joining a Browns’ team that already has a competent veteran in Tyrod Taylor, he won’t be forced to play until he’s ready, a mistake Cleveland made a year ago when they threw second-round pick DeShone Kizer to the wolves from the get-go.

2. New York Giants – DE Bradley Chubb (N.C. State)
First Mock: OG Quentin Nelson (Notre Dame)

Of all the teams towards the top of the draft, the Giants are the organization that will have a profound impact on the way the rest of the dominoes fall. As I stated earlier, GM Dave Gettleman is a huge advocate of winning at the point of attack, he firmly believes the only way you win in this league is with dominant players along both the offensive and defensive lines. Originally I had him selecting Notre Dame guard Quentin Nelson here, but last week’s trade of Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay, opens up a gaping hole at defensive end, one that is begging to be filled by Chubb.

3. New York Jets – QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
First Mock: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)

The Jets paid a kings’ ransom to move into this position, and it’s quite obvious they’re looking for a quarterback. I’m sticking with them taking Josh Allen, who may have even raised his stock with news coming out of his superb Wonderlic score.

4. Cleveland Browns – RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
First Mock: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)

It’s almost unprecedented for one team to have two of the top four picks in the NFL Draft, and the Browns are in a position where it would be pretty difficult to seriously screw this up. Their dream scenario would be landing their QB of the future and adding the draft’s top playmaker in Barkley, and the only way it doesn’t happen is if the Giants surprisingly take the former Nittany Lion at #2.

5. Denver Broncos – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
First Mock: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)

The Broncos pick is still one of the most interesting ones in the first round. As I said a few weeks ago, Denver has had no luck drafting and developing quarterbacks in recent years, with Paxton Lynch standing out as the biggest bust. They signed free-agent Case Keenum to a two-year contract, rewarding the veteran for his career year with Minnesota a season ago, but also protecting themselves in the event it was a fluke, as the pact is not a long-term commitment. Denver very well may look to add a young QB to their roster at #5, but I still believe passing on the dynamic Fitzpatrick will be too difficult, as following the departure of Aqib Talib this secondary desperately needs a playmaker.

6. Buffalo Bills (From Indianapolis Colts) -QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
First Mock: Indianapolis selects DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)

Here’s where I think the draft will really begin to differ from my original projection. The Colts have been linked to edge rusher Bradley Chubb for months, and he’s undoubtedly the guy they’re hoping to draft at number six overall. The Giants’ trade of Jason Pierre-Paul may have thrown a wrench in Indy’s plans, however, as with New York now in need of a pass rusher, Chubb very well may not still be on the board at #6. If that’s the case, I expect Jim Irsay and company to look to trade down, with Buffalo as the most logical partner as the Bills own picks #12 and #22 and are desperately in need of a QB. Following the trade, I envision Buffalo taking the talented Josh Rosen to be their QB of the present and future, a potentially interesting scenario as the southern California native has essentially zero experience playing in the types of weather conditions he’ll see playing in upstate New York.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
First Mock: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)

Tampa Bay desperately needs defensive help, particularly in the secondary, and while they would love if Minkah Fitzpatrick were to fall to them here, it seems more likely the Bucs’ will be choosing between Denzel Ward and Derwin James. I’m sticking with them taking Ward, the former Ohio State Buckeye.

8. Chicago Bears – OG Quentin Nelson (Notre Dame)
First Mock: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)

The Bears could use help at several different positions, but in this version of the mock draft, I think their choice would be one of the easiest ones to make. With veteran guard Josh Sitton signing in Miami as a free-agent, the Bears have a gaping hole along their offensive line, and if arguably the draft’s best overall player, Notre Dame guard Quentin Nelson, is still available here, it’s a no-brainer

9. San Francisco 49ers – S Derwin James ( Florida State)
First Mock: S Derwin James (Florida State)

After signing former nemesis Richard Sherman to a free-agent contract, I’m looking for San Francisco to look to establish their own version of the “Legion of Boom” Derwin James is an electrifying playmaker at the back end who plays with impeccable swagger, and he could immediately become the Niners version of Sherman’s former Seattle teammate, Earl Thomas.

10. Oakland Raiders- LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
First Mock: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)

The Raiders will assuredly be looking for linebacker help in the first round, and while they very well may have their pick between Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith, Edmunds is a little rawer, and Smith just screams Jon Gruden’s type of player. The former Georgia Bulldog has the tremendous speed for a linebacker and can play sideline to sideline, and to me, this still seems like a match made in heaven.

11. Miami Dolphins – DT Vita Vea (Washington)
First Mock: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)

A couple weeks ago I had the Dolphins taking QB Josh Rosen, who had surprisingly slid to number eleven. While in this scenario Oklahoma’s Heisman winning quarterback Baker Mayfield is still on the board, I don’t think Miami will be as enthralled with him, and instead will select Vita Vea to replace the departed Ndamukong Suh in the middle of their defensive line.

12. Indianapolis Colts (From Buffalo Bills) – LB Tremaine Edmunds (VA Tech)
First Mock: Buffalo selects QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)

After twice trading back to acquire more draft capital, Indianapolis finally makes their first-round selection, taking the athletic Edmunds to rush the passer off the edge while also playing some SAM linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

13. Washington Redskins- CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)
First Mock: CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)

As I explained in the first mock, this pick almost assuredly will be a cornerback, as the Redskins watched both Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland depart over the offseason. I’m sticking with the position but changing the player here at number thirteen, as Central Florida’s Mike Hughes has seen his stock rise in recent weeks, and may have passed Josh Jackson in the secondary pecking order

14. Green Bay Packers – DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
First Mock: DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)

Green Bay could really use a pass rushing compliment to Clay Matthews, and I’m sticking with the long-armed Marcus Davenport being the man they take to fulfill that role.

15. Arizona Cardinals – QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
First Mock: OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)

The Cardinals are desperately in need of a young quarterback to develop, and while they’re undoubtedly planning to attempt to move up, in this scenario they stay at #15 and count their lucky stars when last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, lands in their laps.

16. Baltimore Ravens – WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
First Mock: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

The Ravens absolutely need to address what was a lackluster pass-catching corps, and provided Ridley doesn’t go earlier than expected, this is an easy pick to stick with.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
First Mock: OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)

Los Angeles, I still want to call them San Diego but that’s beside the point, could really use help at offensive tackle as they’ve had a hell of a time protecting quarterback Phillip Rivers in recent years. In the first mock draft, I had the Chargers taking Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, but McGlinchey graded out just a little better, and if he’s available, he should be the choice.

18. Seattle Seahawks – OG Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
First Mock: OG Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)

Seattle’s protection of franchise QB Russell Wilson has been nothing short of atrocious for as long as I can remember, and it’s time for them to finally acknowledge they’ve been putrid up front, and select Wynn to drastically improve the interior of their line.

19. Dallas Cowboys – LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
First Mock: WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)

Two weeks ago wide receiver looked like the Cowboys’ biggest draft need, but the free-agent additions of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson likely will allow Dallas to target defense with this pick. When Anthony Hitchens left Big D for a massive free-agent contract with Kanas City the Cowboys were left extremely thin at linebacker, and Vander Esch would likely find himself a day one starter if he does, in fact, end up with a star on his helmet.

20. Detroit Lions – OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
First Mock: DT Vita Vea (Washington)

Originally I had Detroit taking the uber-talented Vita Vea to become a disruptive force in the middle of their defensive line, but with him unavailable, selecting one of the draft’s most talented big men may go a long way towards improving what has long been a lackluster run game.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – OG Will Hernandez (UTEP)
First Mock: OG Will Hernandez (UTEP)

I’m sticking with Hernandez here, as it makes a ton of sense for the Bengals to draft the grizzly guard to improve their passing game, running game, and overall attitude.

22. Indianapolis Colts (From Buffalo Bills) – DE Harold Landry (BC)
First Mock: Buffalo selects LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)

While the Colts would prefer to add pass rushing dynamo Bradley Chubb to their roster, following their trade with the Bills, landing Tremaine Edmunds and Harold Landry in the first round is a pretty strong consolation prize.

23. Los Angeles Rams LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
First Mock: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)

LA’s biggest draft need is still linebacker, and while I had them taking Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch originally, with him off the board, Evans becomes the pick here.

24. Carolina Panthers – WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
First Mock: CB Mike Hughes (Central Florida)

The Panthers may still target secondary help, but Cam Newton could really use more weapons on the outside, and if the speedy Kirk is still on the board at #24, the possibility of adding him may be too tempting to pass up.

25. Tennessee Titans – DE/OLB Arden Key (LSU)
First Mock: DE Harold Landry (Boston College)

The Titans are in need of pass rushers, and while Arden Key does have potential character questions, his talent can’t be questioned, and with Landry no longer available, Tennessee may feel inclined to take a risk on the former LSU Tiger.

26. Atlanta Falcons – DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
First Mock: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)

For all the same reasons I outlined in my original mock draft, this is one of the most easily identifiable matches in this entire draft, and Atlanta is just crossing their fingers that the big man will still be here when they go on the clock.

27. New Orleans Saints – TE Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)
First Mock: TE Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)

I’m close to 100% positive the Saints will go with a tight end in the first round, and as we discussed earlier, while it could be any of four talented players at this position, Andrews is the biggest, and closest resemblance to Jimmy Graham, who formed a lethal duo with Drew Brees while they were together in NOLA.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
First Mock: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

It’s far from a guarantee that Pittsburgh will target a quarterback in round one, but I have a hunch with this one and I’m sticking with it. Lamar Jackson to the steel city.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)
First Mock: WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)

I originally had the Jags’ taking the big-bodied Sutton to replace the departed Allen Robinson, but Jacksonville’s need at receiver became more blatant when they cut Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings – OT Connor Williams (Texas)
First Mock: OT Connor Williams (Texas)

I’m going to stick with Minnesota taking former Longhorn Connor Williams, as their offensive line was in rough shape a year ago, and they’ll need to protect Kirk Cousins if they want to fulfill their lofty expectations.

31. New England Patriots – CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)
First Mock: DE/OLB Arden Key (LSU)

Josh Jackson is taking the biggest fall of any player between my first and second mock draft, as I originally had him going #13 to Washington. New England lost Malcolm Butler last month and Bill Belichick’s defense could really use more speed at the back end, and Jackson may be just the man to answer the bell.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)
First Mock: TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)

Philadelphia watched two tight ends who contributed greatly to their championship season depart this off-season, and I’m maintaining that Dallas Goedert will be their choice to begin plugging that hole.


Justin Mears
Baseline Times NFL Contributor