NFL Mock Draft 2018: Steelers, Bills move for QBs; Giants, 49ers happy to trade back
With the Super Bowl complete, the 2018 NFL Draft order is finally set. We’ve already seen one major quarterback move this year, with the Redskins opting to trade for Alex Smith instead of paying Kirk Cousins. It looks as though the 2018 NFL offseason will be one of the most intriguing in recent memory, especially regarding quarterbacks.
The 2018 NFL Draft will see teams fighting to move up the board for new franchise passers. In this mock draft, two teams trade into the top 10, and a host of offensive linemen are drafted in Round 1.
1 Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Despite a lackluster 2017 season, Darnold remains the top quarterback on and off the field in the 2018 draft class. The Browns, who have to take a quarterback first overall after their recent snafus at the position, likely have Darnold in their crosshairs.
2 TRADE — Buffalo Bills (from Giants): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
A year ago, the Bills were considering moving up in the draft for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Their new management and coaching staff in place this year could look for a similar move for Josh Rosen, a quarterback in whom they have shown substantial interest. Both of their first-round picks this year and a 2019 early round pick should be enough, and the Giants can move back and remain in win-now mode.
3 Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
With needs at running back, offensive tackle and pass rusher, the Colts can’t go wrong at No. 3. Chubb is the best non-quarterback in the draft, and he has the mental makeup to be a defense-changing talent like Jalen Ramsey has been for the Jaguars.
4 Cleveland Browns (via Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
After adding a quarterback first overall, the Browns can complete their offense by adding a high-character leader and versatile offensive weapon at No. 4. Barkley won’t fall past the first seven picks in the draft.
5 Denver Broncos: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
This pick is under the assumption that the Broncos will sign Kirk Cousins in free agency. If they do, giving Cousins a top running back (Barkley) or offensive lineman will make his life easier. If they don’t sign Cousins, this pick might be Baker Mayfield.
6 New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets need a quarterback unless they want to roll the dice with Christian Hackenberg again. Josh Allen may fit the type of quarterback they’ve drafted before, but Mayfield is the better NFL passer. New York met with both extensively at the Senior Bowl.
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Bucs need to upgrade their offensive line this offseason, with Ali Marpet their only capable starter for the long term. Nelson can push Marpet back to center and give this team two elite blockers for Jameis Winston.
8 Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
Chicago has found success through free agency on its defense, but it’s time to find high-end, young defensive talent through the draft. Edmunds is a special talent and one of the few off-ball linebackers who deserve to be drafted in the top half of Round 1.
9 TRADE — Pittsburgh Steelers (from 49ers): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
A second massive trade-up for a quarterback: The Steelers make a deal in a similar move to what the Chiefs did a year ago for Patrick Mahomes. Pittsburgh can trade its first-round picks this year and next year in order to select Ben Roethlisberger’s future replacement.
10 Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Oakland has ample talent on offense, but it needs to continue to upgrade its defense. The Raiders’ run defense, particularly on the interior, needs substantial improvement. Vea is a Haloti Ngata-like talent.
11 Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
The Dolphins were looking for safety help a year ago and opted to sign T.J. McDonald to a contract, but he’s not the long-term answer. They also need cornerback help, and Fitzpatrick solves both. At this point, I doubt they’re truly in the Baker Mayfield sweepstakes, but they do like him.
12 Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Neither Cedric Ogbuehi nor Jake Fisher has worked out as a long-term answer at either tackle spot. It’s time for the Bengals to move on from both busts and find a new left tackle for the future.
13 Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
They will be in the Baker Mayfield market, but with the contract given to Alex Smith, the Redskins might be more inclined to draft a passer on Day 2 than spend an early pick on one. (Look for Mason Rudolph to be an option.) Smith can be the playmaking linebacker they need on defense.
14 Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Kevin King is a long-term answer on one side at cornerback, but the Packers still could use another high-end CB, especially with wide receivers in the division posing trouble. Ward is the 2018 draft’s best true cornerback.
15 Arizona Cardinals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
The draft’s second best interior offensive lineman (after Quenton Nelson), Price is still worthy of a top-20 overall pick. He can plug in at center or either guard spot and can be an immediate benefit to their next quarterback.
16 Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Ravens have been known to favor Alabama players, and they drafted Marlon Humphrey in Round 1 a year ago. This year, with a major need at receiver — and with the draft’s best receiver hailing from Alabama — Ridley makes almost too much sense.
17 Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
While they’ve built a strong secondary, the Chargers adding a playmaking safety to finally replace Eric Weddle should be an objective this offseason. James was more inconsistent than expected in 2017, but his upside is fantastic for the 17th overall pick.
18 Seattle Seahawks: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
Seattle is desperate for offensive line help, and it has always coveted athleticism up front. O’Neill has played both left and right tackle as a Lane Johnson-like athlete, and Seattle can’t afford to pass on the position in Round 1.
19 Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
In the short term, the Cowboys need a No. 2 receiver opposite Dez Bryant to help get Dak Prescott back on track. For the long term, Sutton could become the replacement for Bryant as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
20 Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Detroit needs to start retooling its defensive line, as age, a lack of versatility and potentially having competition to re-sign Ezekiel Ansah all could be issues this offseason. Hurst is a Michigan man who can bolster the Lions’ run defense and allow them to take high-risk, high-reward pass-rushers later.
21 TRADE — New York Giants (from Bills): Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
After moving down from No. 2 overall and passing on a top quarterback, the Giants can get the draft’s second best running back in Guice, taking some pressure off Eli Manning and finally giving this team a leader in the running game.
22 TRADE — New York Giants (from Bills): Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
With their second pick from the Bills, the Giants can snag Okoafor, a highly skilled left tackle prospect who, along with the re-signing of Justin Pugh, can get New York’s offensive line back to at least average.
23 Los Angeles Rams: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
The Rams are likely to lose Trumaine Johnson this offseason and have a dire need at cornerback. Oliver is a long, skilled vertical cornerback who can fill Johnson’s role well.
24 Carolina Panthers: Mike McGlinchey, G, Notre Dame
Carolina likely won’t be able to re-sign Andrew Norwell this offseason, leaving a hole at left guard, a key part of its offenseive success. McGlinchey, a college left tackle, easily can slide to left guard and potentially fill in at tackle if Matt Kalil suffers an injury or, in the long term, needs to be replaced.
25 Tennessee Titans: Marcus Davenport, OLB, UTSA
There was plenty of Senior Bowl buzz about the UTSA pass-rusher going in the top 10, but Davenport is a high-risk, high-reward player with outstanding length and skills. He can give Tennessee the developmental edge player it needs.
26 Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Expected not to re-sign Dontari Poe this offseason, the Falcons need a big-bodied interior defensive lineman who keep their explosive linebackers clean and Grady Jarrett free to attack on the inside. Payne can do just that.
27 New Orleans Saints: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
After striking gold on Marshon Lattimore in last year’s draft, the Saints no longer have a major need at cornerback. However, finding a running mate for Lattimore, coupled with their recent draft success on defense, can turn the historically bad Saints defense into one of the best units in the NFC.
28 TRADE — San Francisco 49ers (from Steelers): Ronald Jones, RB, USC
The 49ers will likely look to move down in the draft, taking advantage of their lack of major needs and capitalizing once again on teams looking to move up. Jones fits Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and the team likely isn’t going to bring back Carlos Hyde.
29 Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
Without many needs this offseason, the Jaguars could be a team looking to move up to draft Josh Allen. If not, look for them to focus on the offensive line, a signature Tom Coughlin move.
30 Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The Vikings have found success in free agency the last few years along the offensive line, but it’s not something they should bank on if they hope to get back to the NFC title game. Miller is a high-upside pass-blocker who can be groomed for the left or right side.
31 New England Patriots: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
If not for injury issues all season, Landry might have been a top-15 pick. But those concerns, coupled with other strengths in the draft class, could push Landry to the late first or even second round. The Patriots keep the Boston College standout in-state.
32 Philadelphia Eagles: Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
The Eagles need to start looking at moving on from Jason Peters. Kicking Lane Johnson to the left side and/or looking for a plug-and-play left tackle to keep Carson Wentz upright is a must. Jones is underrated and can do that for the Eagles.