The Super Bowl is over and we have the draft order all figured out except for the coin flips so it is time once again to share our thoughts on where the top college prospects could land. Here is our 2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0.
1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley – HB – Penn State
Cleveland has the luxury of taking the best playmaker in the draft with the first overall selection. If they take a quarterback in this spot, they run the risk of losing out on the Nittany Lion product before the fourth pick. They get a stud running back and are guaranteed one of the three best quarterback prospects in the draft.
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold – QB – USC
Eli Manning will be in a Giants uniform next year and Sam Darnold can come in and learn for a year behind him which will be very beneficial. He has a very high ceiling but he is not day one ready. The Giants need to grab their quarterback of the future and do so by nabbing Darnold.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Minkah Fitzpatrick – DB – Alabama
It is very likely the Colts end up taking a pass rusher here but Fitzpatrick is the best defender in this draft. They can put him at corner or pair him with 2017 first rounder Malik Hooker and form a game-changing safety duo. Either way, they improve their pass defense and can get pass rush help later in the draft or through free agency, I am looking at you Junior Galette.
4. Cleveland Browns (From Houston): Baker Mayfield – QB – Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield is exactly who Cleveland needs at quarterback. All the kid does is win and that is what he will do for whoever drafts him. Cleveland desperately needs a leader and someone the offense can rally around, they don’t need to look any further than the reigning Heisman winner.
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen – QB – UCLA
The window on Denver’s championship-caliber defense is closing and John Elway needs to find the right quarterback to lead the offense. Trevor Siemian is not capable of being that guy and Paxton Lynch is pretty much a bust at this point. Josh Rosen is the most NFL ready passer in this class and can come into the Mile High city and take over immediately.
6. New York Jets: Bradley Chubb – EDGE – North Carolina State
With the best quarterbacks gone by this point, the Jets focus on other needs. They vastly improve their defense by drafting Chubb. He is a force in the pass rush game and the Jets defense totaled only 28 sacks in 2017.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson – OG – Notre Dame
Tampa has a few needs but with the best offensive lineman there for the taking, the Bucs will snatch him up. Ali Marpet will return from injury while Donovan Smith and Caleb Benenoch form a nice tackle tandem, Nelson will provide the missing piece to a young line.
8. Chicago Bears: James Washington – WR – Oklahoma State
Chicago has a young quarterback who they plan on carrying their franchise, now they need to build around him. New head coach Matt Nagy is offensive minded so getting a playmaker like James Washington makes sense. The Oklahoma State wide receiver has great hands and will be an asset for Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense.
9. Oakland Raiders: Connor Williams – OT – Texas
Donald Penn is still a viable starter but he is going to be 35 when the season starts and Oakland needs to find someone who will take his place. Williams is mean and nasty and the prototypical Raider. He can replace Marshall Newhouse on the right side until his time comes.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Courtland Sutton – WR – SMU
John Lynch gave Kyle Shanahan his Matt Ryan by signing Jimmy Garoppolo to a massive contract. Now he needs to give him his Julio Jones through the draft. Sutton is big and strong while also being a freak of an athlete. He can also dominate in run blocking as well.
11. Miami Dolphins: Calvin Ridley – WR – Alabama
If Jarvis Landry leaves then Miami absolutely needs to bring in help at the receiver spot. Even if Landry is retained, some reinforcements in the receiver room wouldn’t hurt. Ridley is a polished receiver who was underutilized in a run-first Alabama offense.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey – OT – Notre Dame
The Bengals need a new anchor at left tackle. It is pretty simple. Andre Smith and Eric Winston are both free agents so the Bengals draft McGlinchey to ensure that their quarterback is protected for the next decade.
13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith – LB – Georgia
Zach Brown could hit free agency if not resigned which would be a huge loss for the Washington defense. Brown must be retained but the Redskins could use a second inside linebacker to start next to Brown in their defense. Roquan Smith‘s size does not make him a great fit for a 4-3 middle linebacker so pairing him with someone like Brown in a 3-4 will put him in the best possible position to succeed.
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport – EDGE – UTSA
Green Bay needs a big youth injection when it comes to their pass rush and Marcus Davenport is a raw talent but can learn a lot from Clay Matthews. Davenport can wreak havoc if utilized correctly. He has the tools, just needs some coaching.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen – QB – Wyoming
The Cardinals are in overhaul mode on offense. They lost their starting quarterback and their head coach to retirement. They could bring in a quarterback like Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater in free agency but still need to draft their guy. Josh Allen flashes elite accuracy but it is far from consistent. He is a project but one that could pay off big time in the end.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Brian O’Neill – OT – Pittsburgh
Baltimore has a lot of holes to fill on the offensive line and they start with the right tackle. They draft O’Neill to replace aging Austin Howard. The Pittsburgh product is a great athlete at the tackle position.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Vita Vea – NT – Washington
Los Angeles has a defensive front seven set up for many years of success with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Corey Liuget, and Denzel Perryman. They need to bring in someone new to take over for Brandon Mebane in the middle though. Vita Vea is 330 pounder who can play any of the three positions on the defensive line in a 3-4. He’s extremely versatile for a player of his size and has rare athletic ability as well.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Billy Price – OG – Ohio State
Seattle’s biggest need is obviously the offensive line. They brought in Duane Brown from Houston to improve the left tackle spot and Luke Joeckel was signed to play a guard but he is a free agent and needs to be upgraded anyway. 2017 second round guard Ethan Pocic is a promising young player and Seattle brings in another former center and convert him to a guard in Billy Price.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Tremaine Edmunds – LB – Virginia Tech
Anthony Hitchens‘ contract is up and should be brought back by Dallas but the Cowboys would be wise to get Hitchens some more help. Sean Lee‘s best days are behind him and bringing in Edmunds allows Jaylon Smith to move outside to the weak side and Edmunds can anchor the middle.
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry – EDGE – Boston College
Detroit’s best pass rusher, Ezekiel Ansah, is a pending free agent. The Lions should re-sign him but also boost the pass rush by drafting Boston College’s Harold Landry. Landry is an effective pass rusher but needs some coaching when it comes to setting the edge which can be taught.
21. Buffalo Bills: Maurice Hurst – DT – Michigan
Buffalo shipped Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville and Kyle Williams will turn 35 this summer. Pairing Maurice Hurst with Adolphus Washington in the middle of the Bills’ 4-3 defense will give them a nucleus to build a championship defense around.
22. Buffalo Bills (From Kansas City): Malik Jefferson – LB – Texas
Buffalo sticks to the defensive side of the ball with their second consecutive first-round pick. With Preston Brown set to hit the free agency market, Buffalo needs to find a replacement. Jefferson is an underrated athlete coming out of Texas. He can string plays out and has a great motor. Even if Brown is retained, Jefferson is versatile enough to replace the soon-to-be 35-year-old Lorenzo Alexander on the strong side.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Denzel Ward – CB – Ohio State
The Rams were the darling of the NFL season in 2017. They have the reigning offensive and defensive players of the year. Their offense is in good shape but their defense needs help in the secondary. Denzel Ward can provide a defender who can cover receivers on the outside with great ball skills and also doesn’t shy away from stopping the run.
24. Carolina Panthers: Sam Hubbard – DE – Ohio State
Sam Hubbard may not be an elite pass rusher but his all-around ability makes him very attractive for the Carolina 4-3 defense. Hubbard has the ability to produce in rushing the quarterback but is probably best against the run. He has a high football IQ as well.
25. Tennessee Titans: Dorance Armstrong Jr. – EDGE – Kansas
The Titans have a new head coach in Mike Vrabel and he wants to boost his pass rush. Armstrong is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense and can give competition to an underachieving Kevin Dodd and also learn from veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez – OG – UTEP
Atlanta needs to improve their offensive line and the UTEP miner can do that for the Falcons. He is a wall of a man who can be a plow in the run game. He needs to be coached up in pass protection but with his God-given strength he can be something special.
27. New Orleans Saints: Lamar Jackson – QB – Louisville
New Orleans will for sure bring back Drew Brees but they need to find his heir apparent. Lamar Jackson has the tools but will benefit from sitting for a year or two. Especially learning from a guy like Brees.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derwin James – S – Florida State
The Pittsburgh defense could use help at any level but with Derwin James sitting there this late in the draft, the Steelers don’t hesitate. Mike Mitchell is most likely moving on from the Steel City so James provides a playmaker the Steelers need on the back end.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Braden Smith – OG – Auburn
Jacksonville has a great workhorse back in Leonard Fournette, now they need to build an offensive line that can create holes for him. Braden Smith can play either guard or tackle. The 6’6″ 300 pounder is a better run blocker than pass protector but will improve the Jaguars line and can play multiple spots.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Joshua Jackson – CB – Iowa
Minnesota’s defense is remarkable but you can always use guys that can cover. Jackson is a long corner who has great ball skills. He can join a cornerback group that already has Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander that plays in the pass first NFC North.
31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph – QB – Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph could easily be gone at this point. Teams like Buffalo, New Orleans, or Minnesota could pull the trigger on the Oklahoma State quarterback but he lands in New England to be Tom Brady‘s backup and be groomed to one day replace the future Hall of Famer.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Kolton Miller – OT – UCLA
The defending Super Bowl Champions (that was fun to write) need to make sure their poster boy Carson Wentz is protected, especially after his ACL injury. UCLA’s Kolton Miller is a solid tackle prospect who will step into the left side once Jason Peters is gone and in case Peters goes down again. He and Lane Johnson will be relied on to keep Wentz upright for many years.