2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
For the longest time I was convinced that the Browns would make the bold move and take a running back with the first overall pick. However, after weeks of speculation, it seems to me that Sam Darnold has cemented himself as the clear pick here. My last string of doubt was snapped after Darnold’s Pro Day. Seeing the team owner Jimmy Haslam fraternizing with Darnold’s parents solidified it for me. It is one thing for the General Manager to be there, but the owner is a whole new level. This tells me that they are locked in on him and are preparing for the kid from southern California to be their new face of the franchise.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley (RB, PSU)
Like the dilemma I had with the previous pick, the Giants could do many different things with this pick. Part of me believes that they recognize their need for a new quarterback. However, for now I’ll choose to believe that they will give Eli Manning at least one more season to prove he has more left in the tank. Instead of drafting Josh Rosen, they instead go with the most dynamic and exciting player in the draft. If for some reason Odell Beckham is no longer a Giant by the time this pick comes around, then consider this a done deal.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
The Jets just signed Teddy Bridgewater who is coming off injury. Shortly after, they announced the re-signing of last year’s starting quarterback, Josh McCown. However, even after that, the Jets still made the big move everyone was anticipating and traded up for the third overall pick. For a franchise that has struggled at quarterback since the days of Joe Namath, you have to believe the only reason this trade was made was to grab their franchise signal caller. Having Rosen sit behind McCown until he is ready isn’t the worst plan in the world.
4. Buffalo Bills (PROJECTED TRADE WITH BROWNS): Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
It’s no secret that the Bills are looking to trade up for a quarterback. In this scenario, they swap first rounders with Cleveland to grab their franchise quarterback. While the Bills will have to give up plenty of other draft picks, it will be worth it in the end. The Browns will also make this trade because they will continue to stockpile more picks, while still having a second first-round pick in the top 15.
5. Denver Broncos: Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Alabama)
With Case Keenum firmly locked in as the new starting quarterback in Denver, it would be wise to take the best defensive player available. After shipping Aqib Talib to the Rams, the Broncos should think about taking their new leader of the secondary.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
This would be best case scenario for the Colts. They trade back, accumulate more picks for the future, AND still get the best pass-rusher in the draft. Huge win for new General Manager Chris Ballard and his staff.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
The Buccaneers will need to address their running back situation later in the draft. But for now, they take the best player available. Edmunds will contribute immediately. Look for a potential DROY candidate.
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame)
Between Trubisky, Jordan Howard, and new wide receiver Allen Robinson the Bears are all in on offense. They should take the best lineman in the draft, to ensure that Trubisky and Howard can flourish.
9. Arizona Cardinals (PROJECTED TRADE WITH 49ERS): Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
Like the Bills, the Cardinals desperately need a quarterback. And much like the Bills, the Cardinals will have to trade up to get one. In this scenario they make a trade with their division rival to grab the most recent Heisman Trophy winner. Mayfield will be groomed to be the guy in the desert, but not before he sits behind veteran Sam Bradford for at least a couple games.
10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward (DB, Ohio State)
Raiders just cut ties with David Amerson and Sean Smith. They will answer here by taking one of the top defensive backs. Ward and Conley, two former Buckeyes, will once again be playing beside each other in the black hole.
11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, (DT, Washington)
The Dolphins very well could trade up or take a quarterback here. However, the Dolphins will more than likely be releasing Ndamukong Suh as soon as the new league year starts. It won’t take long for them to find their replacement. Vea is the best defensive tackle in the draft, and will get his chance to be a key player right away. Tannehill will get one more year to prove he can be the guy.
12. Cleveland Browns (PROJECTED TRADE WITH BILLS): Derwin James (S, Florida State)
If the Browns trade their fourth overall pick, they will most likely just take the best player available. After taking their offensive leader with the first pick, they could take James here to be the leader of their secondary. Pairing him with Jabrill Peppers would make for a scary combination for opposing quarterbacks.
13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
Like many teams, the Redskins have many needs. But first, they need to address the fact that they had the worst rushing defense in all of football last year. Drafting Smith here makes complete sense and will give them a defensive leader both on and off the field for years to come.
14. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
The Packers missed out on the Allen Robinson sweepstakes, and parted ways with longtime receiver Jordy Nelson. They could easily find his replacement here. Between Ridley, Jimmy Graham, and Davante Adams, this passing offense could be one of the best in football. Look out for Ridley to be an early favorite for OROTY
15. San Francisco 49ers (PROJECTED TRADE WITH CARDINALS): Marcus Davenport (LB/DE, UTSA)
If the 49ers trade back, they might need to take the best pass rusher left on the board. The 49ers were at the best when they had players like Justin Smith and Aldon Smith who could get to the quarterback. Putting Davenport on the other side of Solomon Thomas with DeForest Buckner in the middle might be too good to pass up.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown (OT, Oklahoma)
I easily could see the Ravens going wide receiver here, but instead I think they choose to take Brown. It also helps that his dad played for them as well.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
Chargers have a lot of options here, but they need to address their linebacker situation. Rashaan Evans will bring a physical style of play to help aid in every facet of the game.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
The Seahawks shipped away their entire defense this offseason, so they very well could look to rebuild starting here. They also will be looking to sign a free agent veteran running back but if they don’t, I believe they will take Guice here to take some of the pressure off Russel Wilson.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
Depending on what Jerry Jones wants to do with Dez Bryant, this could end up being a wide receiver. However, with Orlando Scandrick gone to the rival Redskins, the Cowboys also need help at defensive back. They’re going to need it when they play inside a division with Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, and Eli Manning.
20. Detroit Lions: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
The Lions haven’t been able to find a replacement for Suh since he left a couple seasons ago. They can finally solve that problem here, while securing a strong force in the middle of their defensive line.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)
Both the Bengals pass rushers in Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap are set to hit free agency. Assuming they can’t resign both, they will look to fill that need here. Hubbard is a great scheme fit, and one of the best pass rushers in the draft.
22. Buffalo Bills: Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
Assuming they get their quarterback early in the draft, they need to be thinking about getting more weapons offensively. They very well could take an offensive tackle here, but instead choose a speedy wide out to complement Kelvin Benjamin.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
The Rams have been the most active team in free agency this offseason. Most of their acquisitions have been on the defensive side of the ball, so they will address the offense here. The Rams seem to be on the doorstep of a true Super Bowl run, but they need more weapons for Jared Goff to throw to. The departure of Sammy Watkins make this their number one need.
24. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Wynn (OG, Georgia)
The Panthers need to protect Cam Newton better this season. They absolutely need more depth at wide receiver also, but it’s hard for Cam to throw the ball when he is constantly scrambling out of the pocket.
25. Tennessee Titans: Billy Price (C/OG, Ohio State)
Despite tearing his pectoral at the combine, Price is still one of the most talented lineman in the entire draft. He is versatile enough to play both guard and center, meaning he is a great fit to help block for Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry for years to come.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State)
The Falcons made the playoffs last season but came up just short when they couldn’t get in the endzone with three attempts. They can address this problem by drafting the 6’6 Gesicki. With an offense that already has Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, adding Gesicki will be the stuff of nightmares for defensive coordinators.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)
The Saints need a lot, but it starts with drafting an offensive tackle to replace the retired Zach Streif.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
Steelers could shock the world and take Mason Rudolph here, but instead I believe they will draft one of the best line backers in the draft, filling the void left by Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
The Jaguars have a defense that is ready to win a championship right now. They already have a franchise running back, but their quarterback has been questionable at times. By taking Jackson here, they make a statement while also adding a superb athlete capable of helping the offense in multiple ways.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Harold Landry (OLB/DE, Boston College)
The Vikings have spent this offseason building their defensive line. It makes sense, considering they couldn’t get an ounce of pressure on Nick Foles during the NFC Championship game. Adding Landry gives them another great edge rusher, and more rotational depth for their defense.
31. New England Patriots: Josh Jackson (CB, Iowa)
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are known for drafting and developing great players. Many consider Jackson to be the best corner in the draft, making this pick an absolute steal.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams (OT, Texas)
If Eagles fans are lucky, Jason Peters has one more season left in him. With the last pick in the first round they grab their future franchise tackle.
Jason Marcus is a junior, studying telecommunications. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.