Way-Too-Early 2018 NFL Mock Draft

If you thought NFL Draft season was over, I’ve got news for you; NFL Draft season never ends. So, it’s time to take a way-too-early look at the 2018 NFL Draft. Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen headline what is expected to be a terrific quarterback class, while Saquon Barkley leads another deep running back group. On defense, two Florida State defensive backs should be among the first defenders picked.

Draft order is based on the reverse order of Bovada’s Super Bowl LII odds via OddsShark. All Offensive, Defensive and line rankings come via Football Outsiders DVOA

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Maybe QB DeShone Kizer develops into the Browns’ franchise quarterback, but the odds are stacked against him. Either way, the Browns might select a quarterback here, especially with multiple top-flight prospects in the 2018 draft class.
  2. San Francisco 49ers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The 49ers are the odds-on favorite to sign QB Kirk Cousins in free agency next season, with Washington having trouble nailing down a long-term deal. If the 49ers don’t sign Cousins, expect a QB here, but if not, they must find Cousins some weapons to work with.
  3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Christian Hackenberg is certainly not the quarterback of the future, and neither is Bryce Petty. Whoever is in charge in the Meadowlands next season should select a quarterback here.
  4. Los Angeles Rams: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Rams must improve Jared Goff’s protection. OG Greg Robinson is a bust and OT Andrew Whitworth, at 35-years-old, is nearing the end of his career.
  5. Chicago Bears: Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Bears passed on two top-flight safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they can’t afford to in 2018 if they want to take their defense to the next level.
  6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Though they picked up QB Blake Bortles’ fifth-year option, the former No. 3 overall selection hasn’t proved himself capable of being a franchise quarterback just yet. Bortles’ fifth-year could be a bridge to whomever Jacksonville takes with this selection.
  7. Buffalo Bills: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. If the Bills are sticking with QB Tyrod Taylor, the must give him some receivers to throw too. Buffalo didn’t pick up Sammy Watkins’ fifth-year option, so a wideout is a strong possibility with one of their two first round picks.
  8. Los Angeles Chargers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Chargers and FS Malik Hooker were heavily connected prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, but instead the Chargers took a wide receiver. A defensive back wouldn’t be a surprise if Los Angeles is again picking in the Top 10.
  9. Detroit Lions: Arden Key, DE, LSU. The Lions need to add a pass rusher alongside DE Ziggy Ansah. In 2016, Detroit’s pass rush ranked No. 26 in the NFL with a 5.4 percent adjusted sack rate.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. The Eagles have tried to trade ILB Mychal Kendricks every year for what seems like the past decade. With an out in his contract after 2018, Kendricks could be a free agent, and the Eagles could be looking for his replacement.
  11. Washington Redskins: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State. Washington has been unable to sign QB Kirk Cousins a long-term contract, so a QB could be in play here. Only QBs Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfield sit behind Cousins on Washington’s depth chart.
  12. Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Miami did little to shore up its poor run defense, which ranked No. 22 in the NFL last year, this offseason. Adding an interior defensive lineman alongside DT Ndamukong Suh would help.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State. Cincinnati’s lost a whole lot of their offensive line to free agency over the past two seasons, while OTs Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi have both struggled.
  14. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Surprisingly, the Ravens didn’t take a single receiver in the 2017 NFL Draft. But with WRs Mike Wallace only getting older and Breshad Perriman struggling to shed the “bust-label,” they’ll have to think about adding at least one in 2018.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State. The Buccaneers might have the best offense in football after adding WR Chris Godwin, TE O.J. Howard and RB Jeremy McNichols, but their defense could still use some work. Brett Grimes isn’t going to cut it much longer at corner.
  16. Tennessee Titans: Cameron Smith, ILB, USC. Tennessee could use some help in the middle of their front seven at inside linebacker. Drafting UCLA LB Jayon Smith will help, but the odds are stacked against him being a fifth-round pick.
  17. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. WR Larry Fitzgerald’s going to retire at some point, and there’s not much behind him on Arizona’s depth chart. As QB Carson Palmer is also nearing retirement, Arizona could also look to take a QB here as well.
  18. Indianapolis Colts: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State. The Colts made major upgrades to their defense in the 2017 NFL Draft, but still need lots of help on that side of the ball. Pass rush continues to be an issue for Indianapolis.
  19. New Orleans Saints: Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson. The Saints were seconds away from taking Reuben Foster when the 49ers leaped them at No. 31. New Orleans drafted LB Alex Anzalone later, but still needs to add talent at linebacker.
  20. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Don’t rule out a quarterback here, with QB Teddy Bridgewater’s status up in the air. But the Vikings’ rumored to be signing Sam Bradford to a long-term extension, Minnesota must better protect its QB.
  21. Carolina Panthers: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson. Matt Kalil, a former first-round pick, is not the answer for the Panthers at offensive tackle. At some point, Carolina needs to address the holes along their offensive line, and drafting OT Taylor Moton at the end of the second round this year won’t be enough. 
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City): Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Kyle Williams’ is 33, and with head coach Sean McDermott’s emphasis on defensive line play, the Bills could use another young talent at defensive tackle.
  23. New York Giants: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. One of these years, the Giants are going to use a first-round pick on a linebacker. With several talented OLBs at the top of the 2018 draft class, maybe 2018 will be the year?
  24. Denver Broncos: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Denver should continue to remake their offensive line with this pick. OT Garrett Bolles gives them an upgrade at left tackle, but the right tackle spot is still an issue. Chances are free agent acquisition and former Raiders’ backup Menelik Watson isn’t going to cut.
  25. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech. Joe Haden will turn 29 prior to the 2018 season, and his play has already dropped off significantly over the past two seasons. The Browns added CB Howard Wilson in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they still need more help at corner.
  26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M. FS Mike Mitchell is only under contract through 2018, and there’s little depth behind SS Sean Davis. Pittsburgh’s pass defense ranked No. 12 in the NFL in 2017, and if they want to get back to the Super Bowl before QB Ben Roethlisberger retires, adding more talent to their secondary couldn’t hurt. 
  27. Oakland Raiders: Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin. Linebacker was one of the Raiders’ top needs heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, yet Oakland’s front office opted to ignore the position entirely. Odds are, they won’t do the same in 2018.
  28. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma. The Seahawks didn’t trade CB Richard Sherman this past offseason, but they sure talked about it a lot. Even if they don’t trade him in 2018, it couldn’t hurt to draft another corner before his contract expires after the 2018 season.
  29. Atlanta Falcons: Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Though the Falcons’ signed DT Dontari Poe to shore up the middle of the defense, he’s only under contract for one season. If Poe leaves, the Falcons could find his replacement via the draft.
  30. Green Bay Packers: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. Green Bay lost several starters along their offensive line to free agency over the past few seasons. They’re going to need to add an interior lineman or two to shore up those losses.
  31. Dallas Cowboys: Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin. One day TE Jason Witten is going to retire. The 35-year-old can only play so many more seasons. Dallas didn’t draft a tight end in one of the best tight end classes in recent memory in the 2017 NFL Draft, so maybe they do so in 2018.
  32. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. The Patriots haven’t been able to lock-down a contract with restricted free agent CB Malcolm Butler, and if they don’t, New England will need a corner alongside Stephen Gillmore after 2017.
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