It’s Thursday April 26th, and that means it’s time for the 2018 NFL Draft! This may be the most unpredictable draft in recent memory.
Usually by this point, we have a pretty good idea how the Top-5, or at the very least, the Top-3, is going to shake down. However, this year, nothing is set in stone. Most reports coming out of Cleveland over the last week have said that they were deciding between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen for the #1 pick. But waking up this morning, the news is that many in the league believe that Baker Mayfield will be the 1st pick.
Lots of teams want to trade down, and lots of teams are exploring a trade up. That should make for a very exciting 1st Round.
Yesterday I gave you my personal mock draft, and now today, leading into the Draft tonight at 8:00, I give you Version 2.0 of We Love Sportz’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
For this mock, my good friend Jeff Greco and I went back and forth, putting ourselves in the shoes of these teams’ GMs, saying what we would do with the picks if we were them. Sidebar: Follow Jeff on Twitter @Uncle_Pony for some good sports takes and some better memes.
Jeff took the odds, I took the evens. We also negotiated a couple trades. With the trades, Jeff picked for odd teams that ended up with an even-numbered pick by way of trade, and vice-versa.
And with that, here is Jeff and Jay’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft!
1 – Cleveland Browns
Pick: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Jeff – The Browns have a chance to get a legitimate workhorse running back AND a potential franchise quarterback with their first two picks. There’s no way I’m not taking Barkley, who in the minds of some is a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott. Plus he doesn’t wear that awful belly jersey.
2 – New York Giants
Pick: QB Sam Darnold, USC
Jay – I don’t think there’s any way the Browns don’t take a QB at #1, even though I agree with Jeff that they should take Barkley. This scenario would play out the same if the Browns take Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. I don’t see the Giants passing on Darnold if he’s available. He’d be a great heir apparent to Eli Manning.
3 – New York Jets (from Indianapolis)
Pick: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Jeff – I think Allen has the second best skill set of this year’s rookie class. He can have some time to learn and develop behind Teddy Bridgewater and hopefully the Jets can come out on the other side with their best QB since Pennington. Plus this website exists.
4 – Cleveland Browns (from Houston)
Pick: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Jayson – After landing Barkley at #1, I have my choice between Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield. While I think Rosen is the better prospect, I’m not sure that his style will play well in Cleveland. Enter Baker Mayfield, who has the swagger necessary to succeed in the NFL, but he could wind up being Johnny Manziel 2.0.
5 – Denver Broncos
Pick: OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Jeff – Nelson is the next best available prospect and it just so happens that he fits right into what the Broncos need to bolster their offensive line. They allowed 52 sacks last year (3.25/game, 31st in the NFL) and really need to protect their quarterback, whoever it may end up being this year.
6 – Indianapolis Colts (from NY Jets)
Pick: EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State
Jayson – It’s pretty simple for the Colts here. They’ll try to move back, but their consolation prize is the best defensive player in this draft class. He’s not rated as highly as Myles Garrett was last year, but if it wasn’t for the number of top QBs in this class, he’d be a surefire Top-3 pick.
7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: S Derwin James, Florida State
Jeff – If Nelson doesn’t drop this far, Tampa Bay needs help in their secondary. They allowed 260 passing yards per game (32nd) in 2017 and could really use a boost to at least 31st. James is a talented playmaker who should be able to cap off longer routes.
8 – Chicago Bears
Pick: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Jayson – The Bears would love to see Quenton Nelson fall here, but they have needs on defense that they can address as well. Ward is a tad undersized, but he makes up for it with great speed and ball skills. He will match up well with a lot of #1 receivers.
9 – San Francisco 49ers
Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Jeff – Please for the love of anything that is good in the world get Reuben Foster off this team. He is flat out a bad person (domestic violence) and doesn’t deserve to have his job anymore. EVEN IF Foster isn’t cut/suspended they could use the help.
New England receives Pick 1.10
Oakland receives Picks 1.23, 1.31, 3.120, 2019 4th Rd Pick
With the fall of Josh Rosen, the Pats see their chance to move up and get the eventual successor to Tom Brady’s throne. They give up a lot to get him, but the Raiders refused to give this pick to their arch rivals without getting a King’s ransom in return.
10 – New England Patriots (from Oakland)
Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Jeff – Rumors are the Patriots love Rosen and they would need to trade ahead of Miami/Buffalo to get him. After all the Brady turmoil, they will be wanting to look for a successor. Besides, the value they lose in the picks they traded away will be made up by some white car salesman they sign off the street to play as their slot receiver.
11 – Miami Dolphins
Pick: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
Jeff – Miami needs a lot of things, but with the top-4 quarterbacks gone, I think Smith is one of the better players left on the board. Miami could use some help at the strong side getting pressure to the QB (30 sacks 2017, 26th NFL).
12 – Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati)
Pick: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Jay – It’s probably a little early value-wise to take Jackson, but he has the potential to change the way we view the quarterback position in the NFL. He’s a better version of the QB that took the Bills to the playoffs last season. I think come tonight, they will have to move up to get him, as I expect five QBs to go in the Top-10.
13 – Washington Redskins
Pick: CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Jeff – Washington has filled most of their needs offensively, so I think they go DB here. I think Fitzpatrick is a steal at this point in the draft. He can help their 21st ranked pass defense from the get-go. His playmaking ability, along with the addition of Alex Smith, can help this team be one of the best in the league in turnover differential.
14 – Green Bay Packers
Pick: EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
Jay – Green Bay is picking higher than usual, and that gives them the chance to get an impact player. Davenport is raw as a prospect, but he has all the potential in the world. The Packers could use a better pass rush, and Davenport should help early while he develops the rest of his game.
15 – Arizona Cardinals
Pick: CB Josh Jackson. Iowa
Jeff – Arizona is filled with needs at this point, but with Top-5 QBs gone, they will have to wait another year to find their future signal caller. Enter Josh Jackson, a standout DB from the Big Ten who can pair well with Patrick Peterson after Mathieu’s release.
16 – Baltimore Ravens
Pick: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Jay – Ozzie Newsome loves his Alabama players (he took Marlon Humphrey in the 1st Round last year), and his team has a need for a #1 receiver. Ridley is the safest WR in this draft, and he’ll instantly become the #1 target for Joe Flacco.
17 – Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey
Jeff – Phil Rivers got sacked 43 times in 2017 and still threw for 4500+ yards. Imagine if they had a capable right tackle to help protect him and make room for Gordon, whose YPC numbers have been pretty awful since he’s been drafted.
18 – Seattle Seahawks
Pick: OT/OG Connor Williams, Texas
Jay – It’s time for the Seahawks to stop ignoring their offensive line early on in drafts. They acquired Duane Brown last season to man the left tackle position, and here they can get Williams who can play right tackle, or if he struggles due to his height and arm length, can easily slide inside to center or guard. I’m tired of watching Russell Wilson run for his life, I want to see what he can do with time in the pocket.
19 – Dallas Cowboys
Pick: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
Jeff – After cutting their only decent wideout in the last 10 years, the Cowboys signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. Neither of them projects to have many targets and they need a legitimate number one to take some pressure off Ezekiel Elliott and the ancient Jason Witten.
20 – Detroit Lions
Pick: OG Will Hernandez, UTEP
Jay – The defense made huge strides last season, so I think they should focus on improving their offensive line. They need to keep Stafford upright and open some holes for their running backs. Hernandez is a mean, nasty MF’er, and he will improve their offense from the get-go.
21 – Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo)
Pick: C/OG Billy Price, OSU
Jeff – Cincy needs an O-line to protect their new workhorse back, Joe Mixon. Their line is pretty abysmal, with backs only averaging 3.6 YPC last season. Anyone else who fits a need for this team seems like a reach to me, and Price is as good a center prospect as they come.
22 – Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City)
Pick: C/OG James Daniels, Iowa
Jay – Jeff just said anyone else at a need position for Cincy would be a reach, but as bad as the Bills’ offensive line is, the reach is worth it. I’d also be slightly worried about the torn bicep that Price suffered at the Combine. Daniels will surely be ready to go from day one, and will protect Lamar Jackson or AJ McCarron very well. I’m sure LeSean McCoy would be a fan as well.
23 – Oakland Raiders (from LA Rams via New England)
Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Jay – Every year, I hope that the Raiders go linebacker in the 1st or 2nd Round, and every year, they don’t, and it’s frustrating. The defense has good players, they just need somebody who can control the middle of the field and lay the lumber when needed. That is Vander Esch. He can play inside on running downs and outside on passing downs. I think he’ll be a great three-down linebacker in this league.
24 – Carolina Panthers
Pick: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
Jay – Another team that tends to ignore a position of need early on in drafts. Alexander is flying up boards due to his impressive Combine numbers, and I think the Panthers would be very lucky if he was available at #24. He’s fast, he has great ball skills, and he’ll help on special teams as well. This would be a great pick.
25 – Tennessee Titans
Pick: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College
Jeff – Kevin Dodd doesn’t look like he will pan out, and Brian Orakpo is already declining and over 30. If I’m the Titans I bolster the defense here with the best player available that best fits their needs. Landry has to tools to disrupt the quarterback and give nightmares to offensive linemen.
26 – Atlanta Falcons
Pick: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Jay – This might be a slight reach, especially considering D.J. Moore is still on the board, but the Falcons’ offense is at its best with a dynamic slot receiver. Taylor Gabriel is gone, so they replace him with the best slot receiver in this draft class. If teams want to double Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Christian Kirk will make them pay.
27 – New Orleans Saints
Pick: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Jeff – Now this guy definitely won’t help you tackle Stefon Diggs, but he’s a physical guy who can block with the best of them. I am not too concerned about his height (6’2 is short for an O-Lineman), as long as he can stay strong and agile and protect Brees in his later years.
28 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Jay – Unfortunately, Ryan Shazier will not play this year. I hope that is not the case down the line, but the Steelers must replace his production. Evans is the closest thing they’ll get to Shazier at this point. He’s a physical inside linebacker, and he’s smart enough to take on the team leader role that Shazier held. He’s not like other recent Alabama linebackers (I hope I don’t regret saying that down the line).
Washington receives Picks 1.29, 4.129
Jacksonville receives Picks 2.44, 4.142, 2019 2nd Rd Pick
The Skins trade multiple 2nd Round picks to move up and get a guy that I admittedly had completely forgotten about.
29 – Washington Redskins (from Jacksonville)
Pick: DT Vita Vea, Washington
Jeff – So I think most of us forgot that Vea existed until I got my final pick. I decided that Washington may as well give up a little to get a player that is ranked well higher by many experts. Vea is a huge, physical presence who will stuff any runner that comes within arms reach.
Jay – I am human, so I make mistakes. I completely forgot about Vea. If I could have a do-over, I believe either the Chargers at 17, Seahawks at 18 or Lions at 20 would take him if given the chance. There’s no way he’ll get past the Lions.
30 – Minnesota Vikings
Pick: CB Mike Hughes, UCF
Jay – They have more pressing needs on offense, but Hughes could take over for the aging Terrance Newman and give the defense a whole lot more. He has some character concerns, but that shouldn’t be an issue with Mike Zimmer. He runs a pretty tight ship, and should be able to get the most out of Hughes. He’s a little undersized, and he’s still developing as a corner, but he could be a shutdown guy in a couple years time.
31 – Oakland Raiders (from New England)
Pick: DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Jay – Hurst was red flagged at the Combine by many teams for heart irregularities. That is a major concern. However, if he tested okay for the Raiders, he is exactly the kind of player they need. He has the most pass rushing potential of the defensive tackles in this class, and he would make life a whole lot easier for Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.
32 – Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: RB Sony Michel, Georgia
Jay – The Eagles have the luxury, given their deep roster, to take the best player available. Michel is electric with the ball in his hands, and while knee issues are a concern, that kind of thing has never stopped the Eagles from taking a risk on a player. If healthy, Michel is the ideal complement to Jay Ajayi, and would be a fantastic pick to conclude Round 1.