NFL Mock Draft 4.0
2018 NFL Mock Draft 4.0
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
Despite picking up Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton in the offseason, the Browns’ priorities should be drafting a quarterback for the future while the talent is available. They have their pick of the lot at the No. 1 overall slot, and it’s become increasingly clear that Jimmy Haslam likes Sam Darnold the most out of the bunch, made evident by his visit at USC’s pro day. Cleveland could go for a more talented player like Saquon Barkley here, but Darnold is the safest choice.
2. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Giants): Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
The Bills have been on the move this offseason, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them jump into the top five in order to establish a new franchise quarterback now that Tyrod Taylor is gone. After living with Taylor’s conservative passing for three years, a gunslinger like Josh Allen may be just what Buffalo needs in order to take the next step.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
Even with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown on the team, taking a quarterback with the No. 3 pick would be the smart move for the Jets. Rosen would be the best available option at this point. New York may not be looking to start a rookie QB right away, so perhaps allowing Rosen to sit on the bench for a year behind Bridgewater or McCown would be the best way to get him accustomed to the NFL.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
Taking their preferred quarterback first overall and still grabbing Barkley at No. 4 would be the best-case scenario for the Browns, and, considering the need for QBs in the top three slots, it’s not that unlikely to happen. A generational talent like Barkley could make an impact in the big leagues right away for Cleveland.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
As one of the best draft prospects at the guard position in years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Nelson went early. Case Keenum found himself under pressure a lot in Minnesota. Now he’s in Denver, and the offensive line situation is not much better. The addition of a dominant lineman like Nelson would surely relieve a lot of the stress.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
Indianapolis should be thrilled if all the dominos fall into place and Bradley Chubb ends up being available at No. 6. The Colts are in dire need of an edge rusher, and Chubb happens to be the best one in the draft. This pick would make the move from No. 3 down to No. 6 completely worthwhile.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James (S, Florida State)
If Nelson falls to No. 7, expect Tampa Bay to scoop him up. Otherwise, the Buccaneers will be best off addressing their defensive struggles. Picking up an athletic safety who played college ball just 200 miles away would be a smart decision by the front office.
8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Alabama)
If the Bears are looking to grab Quenton Nelson to fill the hole that Josh Sitton left, they’ll like have to trade up. Otherwise, Chicago should make a move on defense. They could very well pick someone like Tremaine Edmunds in order to strengthen the front seven, but taking a do-it-all defensive back like Fitzpatrick makes just as much sense.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
The 49ers were hoping that Reuben Foster would turn out to be the next Patrick Willis, but his future with the team is now up in the air. As such, San Francisco should address the pass rush. A speedy outside linebacker like Edmunds would prove to be a major plus for a sagging defense like San Francisco’s.
10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
The Raiders find themselves in need of a corner once again. Oakland’s defense recorded a mere five interceptions last season, so a speedy ball hawk like Denzel Ward would be a match made in heaven for the silver and black.
11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
The absence of Ndamukong Suh in 2018 is an undoubtedly noticeable gap in the defense. By taking the big man Vea from Washington, the Dolphins would be able to adjust quickly to the loss of Suh.
12. New York Giants (projected trade with Bills): Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
Even if the Giants trade out of the top five, they still may be able to take a top-ranked signal caller in the first round. Heisman winner Baker Mayfield could learn a thing or two from two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning before taking over the starting role a few years down the road.
13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
Washington has a lot of holes to fill on defense, so they could really go anywhere with this pick. The Redskins allowed more rushing yards than any team in football last year, so the addition of an all-around defensive force like Roquan Smith would make perfect sense.
14. Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
Green Bay is severely lacking at the corner position, especially with Damarious Randall being shipped to Cleveland. The secondary must be addressed early. With the wide variety of talented cornerbacks in this year’s draft, the Packers could go with anyone, but the all-around impressive play of Hughes is hard to beat. Not to mention he’s a decent kick returner too.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
The Cardinals were able to snag Sam Bradford from Minnesota this offseason, but his injury-prone habits mean that Arizona must be looking for a second option. An offensive powerhouse like Jackson playing alongside a renewed David Johnson would make Arizona’s offense surprisingly scary.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
Michael Crabtree is a nice addition to the offense, but a young standout receiver on the team would make Joe Flacco’s life all the easier. Ridley is the best receiver in the draft, so he may be heading to Baltimore if available at this spot.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
Los Angeles is fine on the edge thanks to dominance from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but the interior could use some work. As the best available defensive tackle and maybe best available player at this point, Payne is a great choice for the Chargers.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)
Russell Wilson is a fantastic player, but he can’t do it alone; he needs protection. McGlinchey’s draft stock is rising thanks to his ties to Quenton Nelson, so addressing the offensive line woes early with this selection would be a good decision.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
With Dez Bryant’s career taking a turn for the worse, the Cowboys find themselves in need of a pass catcher. The young receiver from SMU could certainly do the job.
20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
The Lions will need to address the running back position in this draft, but first they should focus on bringing more firepower to the defensive line. Davenport would be the best available defensive end at this point.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels (C, Iowa)
The most concerning part about this offense is the line, even with the addition of Cordy Glenn. With Russell Bodine now in Buffalo, Cincinnati can find an excellent replacement in Daniels.
22. New York Giants (projected trade with Buffalo): Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
The offensive line struggled of much of last season. Taking a strong lineman early wouldn’t be a bad move, and Will Hernandez fits the bill perfectly.
23. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
Big move by the Patriots trading for the Rams’ spot here in the first round. With Malcolm Butler gone, cornerback now becomes a position of need for New England. Alexander resembles Butler so well, it would be like he never even left.
24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)
Cam Newton needs weapons. A receiving corps in which Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith are the primary targets isn’t going to flourish. Spending a first round pick on the kid from Maryland would likely prove to be worthwhile.
25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)
Brian Orakpo is a fine edge rusher, but he can’t do it by himself. Harold Landry recorded 16.5 sacks in his junior year at Boston College. Surely, he could provide the missing piece to Tennessee’s pass rush.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
With Dontari Poe headed to division rival Carolina, the nose tackle position is open for Atlanta. Bryan may not have the same size as Poe, but when you’re being compared to J.J. Watt, the Falcons should have no problem with this pick.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State)
Coby Fleener has been a bust for New Orleans, and with the Jimmy Graham reunion talks now shut down, it’s on the Saints to find a tight end. Gesicki’s stock has been rising since his impressive combine. A big man like him would help make this offense deadly.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
With the Rams out of the picture, Vander Esch now becomes available for Pittsburgh, another team looking to fill a hole at the inside linebacker position. The Steelers have had a history of taking linebackers in the first round; expect them to do it again.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kolton Miller (OT, UCLA)
The offensive line in Jacksonville has been slowly improving over the past fast years, but a young right tackle would only help the situation. Luckily for the Jaguars, Kolton Miller is available.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
The offensive line needs improvement, especially at the guard position. Picking up a versatile tackle like Wynn who could likely fill a hole anywhere on the line would be a big step in the right direction.
31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph (QB, Oklahoma State)
Tom Brady has been impressive in his old age, but he won’t last forever. It’s time for New England to start thinking about the quarterback of the future, especially with Jimmy Garoppolo now in San Francisco. Rudolph is the best available QB, and he may not be around at pick No. 43, so it wouldn’t be a bad move to take him in the first.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
The linebacker corps is likely the weakest part of this fearsome Philadelphia defense. With Rashaan Evans available at No. 32, the reigning Super Bowl champs could make this squad absolutely terrifying.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism