2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Regular Season Edition

The 2017 NFL Regular Season is all wrapped up, and the winless Cleveland Browns are, for the second straight year, on the clock with the No. 1 overall selection. The first 20 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft are basically set, while the next 12 picks will be set over the course of the NFL Playoffs. And with college football’s best beginning to declare for the NFL Draft, the top prospects are also beginning to come into focus. So, here is my 2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Regular Season Edition.

(All Offensive, Defensive and line rankings come via Football Outsiders DVOA)

  1. Cleveland BrownsJosh Rosen, QB, UCLA. DeShone Kizer hasn’t proven himself to be the Browns’ quarterback of the future and all signs point to John Dorsey finding Cleveland’s next signal caller here. Rosen’s arguably the best quarterback prospect in the 2018 class, incredibly sound mechanical and terrific from the pocket. While there are rumors Rosen could force his way to the New York Giants, if and until that happens, he’s the Browns’ pick here.
  2. New York GiantsSam Darnold, QB, USC. The Giants need to find Eli Manning’s successor, even if Manning stays in New York another year or two. 2017 3rd Round pick Davis Webb hasn’t seen the field, while Geno Smith certainly isn’t the answer. While there is talk of Darnold needing another year in school, the NFL might be too much to pass up, and sitting a year behind Manning certainly couldn’t hurt either.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Colts haven’t ranked in the top half of the NFL in Defensive DVOA since 2015, but Barkley is too good of a prospect for Jim Irsay to pass up. At 34-years-old, Frank Gore is still churning out 100-yard games, but a free agent, and 35 in May, his days in Indianapolis may be numbered. Giving Andrew Luck the most dynamic running back in college football would certainly help Luck reacclimate to Indianapolis’ offense.
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston)Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama. Somehow, the Browns managed to go winless while ranking among the top teams in the NFL in terms of run defense. Cleveland’s pass defense, on the other hand, was abysmal, ranking in the bottom third of the NFL for the third straight year. Fitzpatrick, versatile enough to play either corner or safety, would be an immediate upgrade and allow Gregg Williams to play Jabrill Peppers closer to the box as well.
  5. Denver BroncosQuenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. Neither Paxton Lynch nor Trevor Siemian is the answer at QB in Denver, but John Elway might target a QB in free agency, rather than the draft. If so, the Broncos must improve an offensive line that ranks among the worst in football. Nelson is one of the best guards to come out of college in years and can slide right in along Denver’s offensive line.
  6. New York JetsBaker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. It says a lot about what the Jets think about Christian Hackenberg that New York didn’t play him at all down the stretch. Todd Bowles has the Jets moving in the right direction, but to take the next step, New York needs to find its quarterback of the future. Mayfield may be 6’1”, but don’t let his stature fool you, he’s more like Russell Wilson than Johnny Manziel too.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. No team had fewer sacks this season than the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay struggled to generate a pass rush all year, and their defense paid for it, ranking 19th in the NFL against the run and 30th versus the pass. Chubb would give the Buccaneers a long-term starter at defensive end, and a pass rusher they so desperately need.
  8. Chicago BearsConnor Williams, OT, Texas. With their quarterback of the future under center, Ryan Pace and the Bears’ attention turns to protecting their young QB. Both tackle positions could use an upgrade on an offensive line that ranked 24th in the NFL in pass blocking and 25th in run blocking.
  9. San Francisco 49ersCalvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Jimmy Garoppolo is already looking like the real deal in San Francisco, now it’s just a matter of John Lynch giving him and Kyle Shanahan more offensive weapons to work with. Marquise Goodwin has had a breakout season, but San Francisco could use another wide receiver or two to pair with Goodwin.
  10. Oakland RaidersRoquan Smith, ILB, Georgia. Once talked up as a Super Bowl contender, defensive woes plagued Oakland all season, resulting in a defense that ranked 20th the NFL. The Raiders need help all across their defense, but especially at linebacker. Smith made plays all over the field for the SEC Champion-Bulldogs and would help Oakland against the run and the pass.
  11. Miami DolphinsRashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. Though the Dolphins’ defense finished the season ranked No. 29 in the NFL, 29th in pass defense and 15th in run defense, in large part due to struggles at the linebacker position. Miami needs a lot of help at linebacker, and drafting a Nick Saban-coached linebacker will only help.
  12. Cincinnati BengalsMike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Though the Bengals do have an out in Andy Dalton’s contract, it seems doubtful they’d use it with so many bad quarterback situations in the NFL. Instead, Cincinnati must better protect Dalton and improve an offensive line that ranks in the bottom third of the NFL.
  13. Washington: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. If Kirk Cousins avoids the franchise tag and leaves via free agency, you can almost guarantee this pick will be a QB. If not, Washington needs to shore up the middle of their front seven against the run. Adding Wilkins and his 26.5 career tackles for a loss alongside DE Jonathan Allen will give Washington much improved defensive line, especially against the run.
  14. Green Bay PackersHarold Landry, DE, Boston College. Injuries decimated the Packers, knocking out a potential Super Bowl contender. If healthy in 2018, Green Bay will be right in the thick of things so taking the best defensive player available while also improving a middling pass rush outside of Clay Matthews might be the route they go.
  15. Arizona CardinalsJosh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Carson Palmer is retiring after the season and the Cardinals need a quarterback. Similar to Patrick Mahomes last year, Allen isn’t exactly NFL ready, but his combination of tools will make him one of the most enticing quarterbacks in this year’s draft class.
  16. Baltimore RavensCourtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Outside of Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace, there’s not a lot of weapons for Joe Flacco to work with in Baltimore. Breshard Perriman’s a bust, and while Ozzie Newsome may be tempted to avoid another first-round wide receiver, the Ravens need to improve their offense if they’re going to continue to be a playoff threat with Flacco under center.
  17. Los Angeles ChargersVita Vea, DT, Washington. Los Angeles needs to solidify the interior of their defensive line. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are terrific talents on the outside, but inside, the Chargers ranked No. 27 in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 131.4 rushing yards. More so, with nobody on the interior, Bosa and Ingram consistently face double-teams. Drafting Vea will change that.
  18. Seattle SeahawksOrlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. It seems like Russell Wilson is running for his life every other play due to poor play from the Seahawks’ offensive line. Wilson can only work his magic for so long, and at some point, Seattle needs to improve their offensive line. Adding Duane Brown at the deadline helped, but still, more is needed, whether it be at guard, tackle or center.
  19. Dallas CowboysClelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. DeMarcus Lawrence recorded almost half of the Cowboys’ 32.0 sacks this season but is a free agent at the end of the year. Even if Dallas is able to re-sign Lawrence, the Cowboys could still use some help up front. Farrell burst onto the scene this season with 8.5 sacks and 17.0 tackles for a loss and could either replace Lawrence or line up alongside him.
  20. Detroit LionsDerrius Guice, RB, LSU. Detroit hasn’t had a 1000-yard rusher since 2004 and led by Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick in 2017, the Lions rushing offense ranked No. 30 in the NFL heading into Week 17. Nobody averaged fewer rushing yards per game this season than the Lions, but adding Guice, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry over three years at LSU, would help change that.
  21. Tennessee TitansDerwin James, SS, Florida State. With the No. 24 pass defense in the NFL this season, the Titans revamped secondary isn’t performing as well as Tennessee might have hoped. SS Jonathan Cyprien hasn’t lived up to his 4-year, $25 million contracts signed in 2017, and with an out in the contract after 2018, Tennessee could move on from Cyprien and draft his replacement here.
  22. Buffalo BillsLamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Say it with me: Lamar Jackson is a quarterback at the next level. Tyrod Taylor is a free agent after the season, and Buffalo’s front office doesn’t look like they’ll make re-signing him a priority. And as Nathan Peterman hasn’t shown anything this year, odds are, Buffalo will be looking for a QB. Jackson is a terrific playmaker, and that alone should translate to the NFL.
  23. Atlanta FalconsMaurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. DT Dontari Poe can walk in free agency, but even with Poe, Atlanta’s defense ranked 20th in the NFL against the run. Grady Jarrett’s been terrific alongside Poe, but Atlanta will need another interior presence on their defensive line if/when Poe leaves for via free agency. Hurst, who’s drawn comparisons to Rams DT Aaron Donald, should do the trick.
  24. Carolina PanthersChristian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. The Panthers need to find Cam Newton some more weapons on offense. After Devin Funchess, Carolina’s top two receivers are Christian McCaffery, a running back, and Kelvin Benjamin, who was traded away to the Bills. Kirk would give Newton a speedy wideout to pair with Funchess, one who’s drawn comparisons to former Panther Steve Smith Sr.
  25. Jacksonville JaguarsHayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. The Jaguars will add a quarterback at some point, but with Blake Bortles performing down the stretch, there isn’t an urgency to reach for a Mason Rudolph or Drew Lock late in the first round. Instead, with Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Mercedes Lewis headed to free agency, the Jaguars add another weapon for Bortles in the 6’5” 250 lbs. TE.
  26. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City)Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The Bills were able to offload Marcell Dareus’ $90+ million contract at the trade deadline, but that left a hole along the Bills’ defensive line. Not only that, but Buffalo’s run defense ranked No. 31 in the NFL this season. And with Kyle Williams going on 35, the Bills need to add some youth and talent to the interior of its defensive line.
  27. Los Angeles RamsJosh Jackson, CB, Iowa. Trumaine Johnson is a free agent at the end of the season, and there’s not much behind him in the Rams’ secondary. Los Angeles could let Johnson walk and select his replacement via the draft. Jackson, who’s eight interceptions and 18 passes defended have vaulted him into first-round conversations, is exactly the CB1 the Rams would look for to replace Johnson.
  28. New Orleans SaintsArden Key, DE, LSU. Cameron Jordan was a monster off the edge this season, but outside of Jordan’s 14.0 sacks, no Saint had more than 4.5. New Orleans could use another pass rushing defensive end opposite Jordan and Key certainly has the talent to fill that role. There will be questions about Key’s injury history and character, but there’s no denying when healthy, he’s a Top 20 talent.
  29. Pittsburgh SteelersMalik Jefferson, LB, Texas. With Ryan Shazier’s status up in the air, linebacker becomes an ever more pressing need for the Steelers, whose run defense ranked No. 18 in the NFL this season. Though there are some concerns with Jefferson, his potential and athleticism are just too much to ignore.
  30. Philadelphia EaglesRonnie Harrison, SS, Alabama. With a terrific defense and a young, franchise QB, the Eagles are in a position where they can take the best player available. Malcolm Jenkins will turn 31 next season, while Rodney McLeod’s cap hit jumps up to over $8 million starting in 2018. Infusing some more youth into the Eagles’ secondary by taking Harrison, a physical safety, certainly couldn’t hurt.
  31. New England PatriotsCarlton Davis, CB, Auburn. The Patriots’ defense was not great this year, finishing the regular season ranked No. 21 against the pass and No. 30 against the run. And with Malcolm Butler headed towards free agency, New England must add talent all across their defense, starting with their secondary.
  32. Minnesota VikingsBilly Price, OG/C, Ohio State. After taking Pat Elflein in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Minnesota can continue to shore up their offensive line by drafting his teammate in Billy Price. Just like Elflein, Price can play either guard or center, giving the Vikings incredible versatility and protection in front of whoever is taking snaps under center next season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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