2018 NFL Mock Draft 6.0: The Final Mock

After almost 365 days of speculation, the 2018 NFL Draft is finally here. Starting Thursday at 8:00 pm EST, 32 teams will select 256 players over seven rounds. The Cleveland Browns are once again on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick, but this time, a quarterback, rather than Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, is the presumptive selection. And after that, organized chaos will reign until the Atlanta Falcons will close the 2018 draft, selecting Mr. Irrelevant with the No. 256 overall selection. So without further ado, here is my 2018 NFL Draft 6.0: The Final Mock.

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

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, that is the question. The Browns are taking a quarterback, and at the moment, it seems like they’ve whittled down their selection to two: Darnold and Allen. And while there’s been a lot of talk about Allen, and his similarities to another John Dorsey selection in Patrick Mahomes, Darnold has time and time again proved himself to be the best quarterback in this year’s draft and is Cleveland’s selection here.
  2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Not only are Dave Gettleman and co. are reportedly enamored with Barkley, but they also seem content to stick with Eli Manning for another year or two and pass on a QB. The Giants’ rushing attack ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season and New York hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012. It shouldn’t take long for Barkley to change that, and he’d do wonders to help Manning in his final few years under center.
  3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis)Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Nobody has improved their draft stock more since September. Once considered a late-round pick, Baker Mayfield is now a lock to go in the Top 5. The Jets traded up so they wouldn’t miss out on one of the top four QBs, and Mayfield is their guy. And don’t let the unfair comparisons to Johnny Manziel fool you, Mayfield has all the tools to succeed at the next level. He’ll be the Jets’ starting QB by their Week 11 bye.
  4. Cleveland BrownsBradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Even with the addition of Myles Garrett, the Browns pass rush was lackluster at best last season. Cleveland has to improve a pass defense that ranked No. 27 in the NFL last season, and pairing Garrett and Chubb would give the Browns one of the most fearsome pass-rushing duos in the league. The Browns certainly will take some calls on this pick, but odds are, Dorsey will hang up the phone and instead add another high-impact player.
  5. Denver BroncosJosh Rosen, QB, UCLA. At the moment, Case Keenum may be the Broncos’ starting QB, but can John Elway really count on Keenum for long? Denver had the worst offense in the NFL last season, and as neither Keenum nor Paxton Lynch is the long-term answer, Elway needs to find one. Rosen, the most NFL-ready quarterback prospect in this year’s draft class, could absolutely be that guy.
  6. PROJECTED TRADEBuffalo Bills (via Indianapolis via New York Jets)Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. The Bills are desperate to trade up for a QB, and with Josh Allen still on their board, Indianapolis proves to be a perfect suitor. Buffalo can sit and develop Allen after signing AJ McCarron in free agency, while Allen’s size and arm talent should play well in the Buffalo weather. It’ll take a lot, but No. 12, 22 and 56 should be enough to jump six spots, as the Bills trade up for their franchise QB.
  7. Tampa Bay BuccaneersDerwin James, SS, Florida State. With the second-worst pass defense in the NFL, Tampa Bay allowed opponents to average almost 8.0 yards per attempt and 261 passing yards per game. Neither T.J. Ward nor Chris Conte played that well at safety last season, and though Justin Evans did show some promise, the Buccaneers still need a lot of help in the back of their secondary. That’s something that James, who tallied 11 passes defended last season, could provide.
  8. Chicago BearsQuenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. After signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency, the Bears can turn their attention their offensive line, one that ranked 28th in run blocking and 23rd in pass blocking last year. If Mitch Trubisky is going to take the next step in year two, Chicago must improve his protection. The Bears hired former Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, so it only makes sense to shore up the interior of their offensive line with Nelson.
  9. San Francisco 49ersTremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech. Rueben Foster had a terrific rookie season, but already the character concerns that dropped Foster down draft boards have come to light, as the linebacker was arrested and charged with domestic violence. San Francisco can’t count on Foster, and John Lynch and co. need to find his replacement. Edmunds would give the 49ers a ton of athleticism off the edge, with 10.0 sacks and 30.5 tackles for a loss over the past two years, helping improve a defense that ranked No. 25 in the NFL.
  10. Oakland RaidersRoquan Smith, LB, Georgia. The Raiders’ defense ranked 20th in the NFL last season, 30th against the pass and 16th against the run, and is in need of upgrades at all three linebacker positions. So if Smith is available, you can almost pencil him in as Oakland’s selection. Smith made plays all over the field for Georgia with 137 tackles in 2017 and would provide a massive upgrade.
  11. Miami DolphinsMinkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. With the No. 29 pass defense in the NFL last season, and a defense that also ranked 29th in the NFL, Miami needs a lot of help, especially in the secondary. Cordrea Tankersley and Xavien Howard showed promise, but the Dolphins still need a corner and a safety. Fitzpatrick has the ability to play all over the Dolphins’ secondary: at corner, in the slot or even as a free or strong safety, injecting some much-needed talent into Miami’s back seven
  12. Indianapolis Colts (via Buffalo via Cincinnati)Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. With so many needs, it makes sense for Chris Ballard to trade down and acquire more picks. Indianapolis needs a lot of help defensively, especially in the secondary after finishing with the worst pass defense in the NFL in 2017. Vontae Davis was released and Rashaan Melvin left via free agency, so adding a corner is or two high priority. Ward tallied 15 passes defended last season with the Buckeyes and would pair well with his former teammate, the Colts’ 2017 first round pick, Malik Hooker.
  13. WashingtonVita Vea, DT, Washington. While Washington had one of the better pass defenses in the NFL last season, their run defense was among the worst in the NFL, ranking 29th. Injuries ravaged Washington’s defensive line, including 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen, who missed 11 games with an injury, but Washington still needs to get stouter up front. Vea, who’s drawn comparisons to Haloti Ngata and Dontari Poe, would be the perfect addition inside.
  14. Green Bay PackersMarcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Outside of Clay Matthews, the Packers’ pass rush was inconsistent at best last season, and Green Bay’s defense suffered, finishing the season ranked No. 24 in the NFL. And after adding Tramon Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson in free agency, the Packers can continue to improve their defense and bolster their pass rush with the addition of Davenport, an athletic freak, who recorded 8.5 sacks and 17.5 TFLs last year with UTSA.
  15. Arizona CardinalsLamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Though the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency, neither is the long-term solution at quarterback. Arizona’s offense has dropped off significantly over the past few years, finishing 2017 as the second-worst offense in the NFL. The Cardinals are headed towards a rebuild, and getting back to contention starts with finding their franchise QB. Jackson may be the most controversial quarterback in this year’s class, but he’s is a terrific playmaker, and that alone should translate to the NFL.
  16. Baltimore RavensCalvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Ravens passing attack was among the worst in football last season, ranking No. 26 in the NFL. If Baltimore wants to compete in the AFC North, Joe Flacco needs some improved weaponry. And while Baltimore did sign three WRs in Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown in free agency, none of the three is a long-term solution, whereas Ridley, a tremendous route-runner who should excel at the next level, could be.
  17. Los Angeles ChargersDa’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. With the 27th-ranked run defense in the NFL last season, the Chargers might sprint to the podium if Crimson Tide DT Da’Ron Payne is still available. The Chargers allowed 131.4 rushing yards per game last season, something the former-Alabama defensive tackle could help change. At 6’2” 308 lbs., Payne would combine with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in the trenches to give opposing offensive lines all sorts of nightmares.
  18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. While the Seahawks offensive line has consistently ranked near the bottom of the NFL, Seattle seems content with Russell Wilson’s protection after trading for Duane Brown at the trade deadline. Instead, the Seahawks’ defense, after losing Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson, Michael Bennett this offseason, is badly in need of some replacements. Jackson is a perfect fit to help replace Sherman, a bigger corner at 6’0”, 196 lbs. with terrific ball skills.
  19. Dallas CowboysLeighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The Cowboys may have released Dez Bryant, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take a wide receiver, at least in the first round. And with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith’s injury history, and Anthony Hitchens headed to Kansas City, the Cowboys must address the linebacking core. Vander Esch stuffed the stat sheet at Boise State with 141 total tackles and would give Dallas some much-needed talent and depth in the back of their front seven.
  20. Detroit LionsHarold Landry, DE, Boston College. Though the Lions franchise-tagged Ezekiel Ansah, they haven’t been able to sign him to a long-term deal so far. Ansah accounted for almost 35 percent of Detroit’s sacks last season, and whether or not he’s signed long-term, the Lions need to improve their pass rush on a defense that finished the season ranked No. 28 in the NFL. Landry tallied 25.0 sacks over three seasons at Boston College, would be the perfect fit for Matt Patricia’s defense.
  21. Cincinnati BengalsJames Daniels, C, Iowa. For a team that runs up-the-middle as often as the Bengals do (54% of the time), Cincinnati has a very shaky offensive line. The Bengals’ offensive line ranked 24th in pass blocking and 20th in run blocking, and while they traded for Cordy Glenn to shore up one of their tackle spots, more help is needed on the interior. Center Russell Bodine signed with the Bills in free agency, and Daniels would be a suitable replacement.
  22. Indianapolis Colts (via Buffalo via Kansas City)Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Colts’ offensive line play has been putrid for much of Andrew Luck’s career, ranking at or near the bottom of the NFL in pass blocking each of the past two seasons. And with Luck coming off a serious shoulder injury, Indianapolis must protect it’s franchise QB if there’s any hope of getting back to contention in the AFC South. McGlinchey, along with 2016 first-rounder Ryan Kelly, will help solidify the Colts’ offensive line, keeping Luck upright upon his return from injury.
  23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. New England’s pass protection has dipped a bit over the past couple of the seasons, and as Nate Solder signed with the Giants in free agency, the Patriots need to find his replacement. Miller compares well to Solder and could slide in at either tackle position and help keep Brady’s pocket clean as he continues to dominate the NFL.
  24. Carolina PanthersIsaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia. Cam Newton’s pass protection has ranked near the bottom of the NFL each of the past few seasons, with Carolina’s pass blocking finishing No. 19 in the NFL in 2017. If the Panthers want to compete in the NFC South with arguably two of the best teams in the NFC, their line play has to improve. And with Andrew Norwell, arguably Carolina’s best lineman, headed to the Jaguars, an offensive guard becomes a huge need for the Panthers.
  25. Tennessee TitansRashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. Avery Williamson was one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL last season, but he signed with the Jets in free agency, leaving a hole in the middle of a Tennessee defense that ranked No. 18 in the NFL last season. Evans tallied 74 tackles, 13.0 tackles for a loss and 6.0 sacks last season with the Crimson Tide and could slide right in next to Wesley Woodyard.
  26. Atlanta FalconsTaven Bryan, DT, Florida. Dontari Poe signed with the Falcons’ NFC South-division rival leaving a hole in the middle of Atlanta’s front seven. The Falcons defense, ranked No. 19 in the NFL, wasn’t too stout up the middle previously and losing Poe certainly won’t help. Atlanta has been linked to plenty of the draft’s top DTs, including Bryan, who’d be a good fit for Dan Quinn’s defense.
  27. New Orleans SaintsDallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Alvin Kamara helped transform a Saints’ offense that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the NFL. Yet, outside of Michael Thomas, just one receiver caught more than 50 passes, 33-year-old Ted Ginn Jr. Ever since they traded him to Seattle, New Orleans has missed Jimmy Graham, and after missing out on him again in free agency, the Saints draft Goedert, who averaged 15.4 yards per catch this past season with the Jackrabbits.
  28. Pittsburgh SteelersDerrius Guice, RB, LSU. Le’Veon Bell’s days in Black and Gold may be numbered. While the Steelers’ franchise tagged their star running back, Bell wants a massive contract, and it doesn’t look like the Steelers want to meet his asking price. The Steelers have to prepare for life without Bell, and Guice, a hard-nosed runner who averaged 6.5 yards per carry, would be a perfect replacement.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Though the signed Andrew Norwell in free agency, the Jaguars’ offensive line is still in a bit of a flux, as both AJ Cann and Cam Robinson struggled last season. With Robinson potentially moving inside or to right tackle, Jacksonville needs to shore up their line and can do so by drafting Williams, who could solidify up the left tackle spot or right guard as well.
  30. Minnesota VikingsWill Hernandez, OG, UTEP. Drafting Pat Elflein last year helped the Vikings begin to shore up the interior of their offensive line, but there’s still more work to be done. The Vikings must improve Kirk Cousins’ protection and with Joe Berger’s retirement, guard becomes a big need for the Vikings, especially with Nick Easton on just a one-year tender.
  31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Nick Foles absolutely shredded a Malcolm Butler-less Patriots’ defense that ranked No. 22 in the NFL in the Super Bowl last season. Butler is out, and while New England traded for Jason McCourty, he’s in the final year of his contract and will turn 31 before the start of the season. Bill Belichick needs to restock the Patriots’ secondary if he wants to get back to the Super Bowl, and Alexander can play right alongside Stephon Gilmore.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Eagles have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL, and don’t have a whole lot of needs. Philadelphia replaced Torrey Smith with Mike Wallace in free agency, but they could still use more depth and talent at receiver. With three different QBs at Maryland in 2017, Moore still caught 80 passes for 1,033 yards and would give the Eagles another receiving threat behind Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor.

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