I wanted to try something new this year and release my Final Mock Draft a week before the Draft starts and avoid all the rumors that come out that try and manipulate what other teams are thinking on draft night. So here is how I think the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft will play out:
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold (QB) USC
The Cleveland Browns will take their quarterback of the future with their first overall selection. There has been a lot of speculation about Josh Allen going number one, but at the end of the day, you take the best quarterback prospect available and I think they pull the trigger on Sam Darnold on Draft Day.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley (RB) Penn State
Dave Gettlemen has been quoted saying he wants a “Hall of Famer” with this draft pick. If he wants to be able to keep Eli upright, Odell Beckham Jr. happy, and get the offense going again, he needs a stud at running back. He gets that player in Barkley here at #2 overall.
3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield (QB) Oklahoma
Mike Maccagnan, the Jets’ General Manager, has worked his way into this Top-3 Draft spot to grab a quarterback. They take the quarterback out of the top 4 options that has proven to be the most consistent and productive player in college. Players love to play with his fiery attitude and they get the new “Joe Namath” type quarterback with a unique personality in New York.
4. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb (DE) NC State
The Browns get the chance to take the best player on the board that is not a quarterback. John Dorsey handles the other side of the ball with this pick and adds another defender to create a trio of Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Bradley Chubb attacking the quarterback.
5. Denver Broncos – Trade
The Broncos think they can compete in the AFC right now, so that means they do not take a quarterback this early, but get more high end draft picks to help them compete in the near future. They have a few needs that can be taken care of with some early picks that can put them in the position to compete in the AFC. They take this idea and turn it into a trade with the Buffalo Bills who desperately need a franchise quarterback.
*** Trade: The Buffalo Bills send picks #12, #22, and extra picks to the Denver Broncos for the 5th overall selection***
Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen (QB) Wyoming
Sean McDermott and the front office have been working to get a franchise quarterback since last season. Every move they have made this offseason has been to get to a position to draft a quarterback in the Top-5. They give the Broncos an offer they cannot refuse to get their quarterback to lead the next era of the Buffalo Bills. Their offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has experience with an inaccurate quarterback in college at Alabama and believes he can structure an offense around his strengths and the run game.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Roquan Smith (LB) Georgia
When it is all said and done, this team needs play-makers and cornerstone players to build around on both sides of the ball. They have Andrew Luck as the leader of the offense (in theory) but have no face to the defense. Roquan Smith is a great fit in the 4-3 scheme and remind former Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus of Sean Lee in how he can always make everyone around him better as the leader at linebacker.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James (S) Florida State
The Buccaneers lack an identity on defense and need a player that they can rally around to start making them a competitive football team. Adding Derwin James to their secondary will make them a better football team on the field, but his leadership will make them a better team off the field as well. James is the kind of player that they need to establish a solid defense, but is also a newfound energy on the defensive side of the ball.
8. Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson (OL) Notre Dame
Harry Hiestand won’t even have to bang the table for his former standout offensive lineman at Notre Dame. Based on his ability, positional fit, and potential to be a top tier offensive lineman for the next decade, the Bears jump on the opportunity to team up Nelson with his former line coach at Notre Dame. A win-win for both team and player and a match made in heaven.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Trade
John Lynch will follow suit from last year and trade away his first pick in the NFL Draft to collect more picks to gain more young talent to add to his football team. There is still a top tier quarterback on the board and the Arizona Cardinals desperately need a talent that can be their quarterback of the future.
*** Trade: The Arizona Cardinals send pick #15 and extra picks to the San Francisco 49ers for the 9th overall selection ***
Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen (QB) UCLA
The Cardinals need a future starter behind consistently rich and injured Sam Bradford and up-and-down Mike Glennon. Josh Rosen is the best quarterback for Mike McCoy’s offensive system and could immediately become the starter in Arizona.
10. Oakland Raiders – Mike McGlinchey (OT) Notre Dame
Jon Gruden wants to have a run heavy offense and better protection for Derek Carr, who struggled under pressure last season. Mike McGlinchey would be an ideal fit in this offense at right tackle, a huge area of need for the Raiders this upcoming season. Gruden needs to have consistency from his offensive line and gets a key piece for now (and the future) with this pick.
11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds (LB) Virginia Tech
The Dolphins are in a situation where they either need to go all-in for a young quarterback or get the best player available. The board works out for them to get a young player with upside in a position where they need more talent.
12. Denver Broncos (from Buffalo) – Denzel Ward (CB) Ohio State
Six quarterbacks going in the Top-10 pushes talent down the board. Ward lands with a team that needs to replace the talent it lost at cornerback with Aqib Talib and gives Denver a key piece to keep their defense a top tier threat in the AFC.
13. Washington Redskins – Vita Vea (DT) Washington
A freak athlete for his size helps a defense that needs a man in the middle of the trenches. This gives the Redskins a reliable run-stuffer and interior presence moving forward.
14. Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry (EDGE) Boston College
Green Bay needs some talent on defense to compete in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers will lead the offense, but they need some more edge presence for Mike Pettine’s more aggressive scheme.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB) Alabama
The 49ers traded down to collect more picks and still get to add a top tier talent in most scouts’ eyes. The 49ers get a defensive player here in the 1st round and invest heavily in their offense in the mid-rounds from extra picks from their earlier trade.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Dallas Goedert (TE) South Dakota State
Ozzie Newsome is looking to create a solid draft for the next General Manager. What Ozzie does here by selecting a tight end is to set up the Ravens to draft their future quarterback in the next draft. Getting a young tight end is great for a rookie quarterback as he can be a trusted target for a young passer.