STF Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft: A Make-Or-Break Year

usa_today_10284966.0

It’s finally time.

After months of waiting, the 2018 NFL Draft is set to officially begin tonight. This year’s draft has the potential to make-or-break an NFL franchise’s fortunes.

Teams like the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have a chance to finally get things right with the right drafting of course.

Then you’ve got teams like the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and Oakland Raiders whom with the right drafting, have the ability to take the next step.

As we’ve seen in previous drafts (2016 and 2017), no price is too much to pay for the quarterback position. This year’s first round will be the most interesting in recent years for a plethora of different reasons. It’s difficult to predict what will happen at any given moment. Thursday night, when Commissioner Goodell takes the podium, from the first pick till the last, things will be exciting and unpredictable. One move, whether a trade up or down, has the potential to alternate the entire NFL Draft.

 

There are two main positions that will dominate the first round. Quarterback, Linebacker, both of which possess levels of talent that are hard to find. At other positions such as defensive end and cornerback, teams will have the opportunity to draft vastly underrated players such as Jaire Alexander, Isaiah Oliver, and Marcus Davenport.

 

There are also many questions that we’ll see answered over the next three days.

 

Does drafting a quarterback mean a new era is about to usher in New England? Will John Dorsey successfully rebuild the Cleveland Browns? Are the Arizona Cardinals trying to compete or simply acquire more assets and enter a full-scale rebuild?

 

Enough of the chit-chat. Below you’ll find mine and Jared’s final 2018 NFL Mock Draft.

1) Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold, USC

Cleveland gets their quarterback of the future. Josh Allen has been rumored to be the pick here, but the safest choice at number one, for now, is Sam Darnold. He’s drawn some comparisons to Andrew Luck.

 

2) New York Giants: DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State

The Giants continue to reshape their roster by selecting Bradley Chubb. One thing current general manager Dave Gettleman prioritized during his days in Carolina was having a strong defensive line. With Jason Pierre-Paul having been traded to the Buccaneers, Chubb makes an ideal replacement. Chubb is a nasty pass rusher who can do it all as he’s got excellent power and speed off the edge. Simply put, draft Chubb and you’ve likely got your franchise pass rusher for the next decade.

 

3) New York Jets (From Indianapolis): QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

The Jets moved up three spots on the draft board to do one thing: select a quarterback. Josh Rosen is likely to slip due to his outspoken nature and it seems as if the team isn’t very high on Baker Mayfield. That leaves Josh Allen. Allen needs to sit for a year before taking over and fixing his mechanics. Walking into a situation where Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown are likely going to be the starting quarterbacks will allow for Allen to iron out his issues.

 

4) Cleveland Browns (From Houston): RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

At this point, if the nations best player is on the board, John Dorsey will pull the trigger and draft a workhorse running back in Saquon Barkley.

 

5) Buffalo Bills (Via Denver): QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Bills get: 2018 first-round pick (5th overall)

Broncos get: 2018 first-round picks (12th and 22nd overall), 2018 third-round pick (65th and 96th overall)

The Bills have made it clear that no matter where they pick, the only position they’ll address in the first-round is quarterback. And with six picks in the first three rounds, two of which include two first-round picks, Brandon Beane will have plenty of ammunition to move up. In Denver, John Elway has stated that the team is taking calls and is open to trading the number five pick. While there have been reports about Josh Rosen slipping due to his outspoken nature, one cannot overlook the fact that he’s the most pro-ready quarterback in the class of 2018.

 

6) New England Patriots (From Indianapolis via New York Jets): QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Patriots get: 2018 first-round pick (6th overall)

Colts get: 2018 first-round picks (23rd and 31st overall)

Like the Broncos above them, the Colts are also interested in moving back to accumulate more picks. And with another AFC East team, the New England Patriots having two first-round picks as well, the Colts could strike a deal that would land them two first-round picks. There’s no doubting that the Tom Brady era will come to an end at some point and the only thing the Patriots can do is prepare for it. This means drafting a proven leader and competitor in a guy like Baker Mayfield. Sure he may not be the ideal height for the quarterback position, but he’s everything an NFL team wants and needs. Placing him under the mentorship of Tom Brady for a year would ensure that he goes on to have a long NFL Career.

 

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

With the Buccaneers having spent most of their time and money on overhauling the pass rush over the offseason, one area where the defense still needs to improve is in the secondary. While Vernon Hargreaves III has proved to be a solid player since being drafted in 2016, he really hasn’t scared quarterbacks into making them think twice before throwing his way. Adding a smart, instinctive player like Fitzpatrick who can play three different positions in the secondary would go a long way into helping the defense see a complete turnaround from an abysmal 2017 season.

 

8) Chicago Bears: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

The Bears released Josh Sitton over the offseason and then hired Nelson’s college offensive line coach in Harry Hiestand. Nelson literally has All-Pro potential written over him and is an excellent run blocker and a good pass blocker as well. By inserting him into the lineup on day one, the impact that Nelson brings will be visible immediately.

 

9) San Francisco 49ers: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

With the Reuben Foster situation currently going on, San Francisco’s biggest need might just be linebacker. Once dominated by guys like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers defense hasn’t been the same without a consistent and physical presence roaming the middle of the field. However, Roquan Smith could change that. First off, Smith has had no history of legal issues, which should be good news considering this was a team that was probably well aware of what Reuben Foster did off the field prior to drafting him last year. Second, Smith flies from sideline-to-sideline and shows a knack for making plays. He’ll most probably be available at number nine, so why not draft him.

 

10) Oakland Raiders: S Derwin James, FSU

The last time Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Charles Woodson was back at safety. This time around, he might be looking for the next Woodson. Derwin James would be a perfect fit in Oakland. James has outstanding size and athleticism that is needed in the secondary.  Although the Raiders drafted Obi Melifonwu in the second round last year, Oakland lost some players in its secondary and drafting a guy like James could help cover up those holes but also take this defense to the next level.

 

11) Miami Dolphins: DT Vita Vea, Washington

While there have been reports of the Dolphins wanting to take a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill is still under contract until 2020, meaning Stephen Ross and co. could decide to wait on taking a quarterback. With Ndamukong Suh gone, the Dolphins need to find another interior defensive lineman. A run stuff like Vita Vea is what this team needs.

 

12) Denver Broncos (From Buffalo via Cincinnati): CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Bills get: 2018 first-round pick (5th overall)

Broncos get: 2018 first-round picks (12th and 22nd overall), 2018 third-round pick (65th and 96th overall)

The Broncos need another cornerback after trading Aqib Talib this offseason and if Denzel Ward is available, John Elway should go after the Ohio State product. Ward plays bigger than his size which is what makes him so valuable. His flexibility and speed will also be assets when it comes to playing against NFL caliber receivers.

 

13) Washington Redskins: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

At just nineteen years old, Edmunds has plenty of room to grow. He shows the ability to hold up in coverage and has great instincts and awareness. A huge advantage that Edmunds offers is his ability to play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. There are times where Edmunds gets a little over aggressive and tends to over pursue the ball carrier leading to missed opportunities. Washington would benefit from having a potential Pro Bowl linebacker on their roster.

 

14) Green Bay Packers: DE Harold Landry, Boston College

The Packers may have signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a one-year deal, but they should still add to their defensive line. Over the last few seasons, the Packers defensive line has been hit by injuries. Drafting Landry gives the Packers a player with a nasty bend off the edge and someone who has the potential to be a double-digit sack artist.

 

15) Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

While the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, both are not the future of their team whereas Lamar Jackson offers a long-term solution. Jackson has been rumored to be the pick here for a couple weeks now and this would be a perfect fit for him as he can come in and compete for the starting job. Imagine an offense with two speedy guys like Jackson and a healthy David Johnson. Enough to give defensive coordinators nightmares for days.

 

16) Baltimore Ravens: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Ozzie Newsome takes another Alabama product for the second year in a row. Even though they signed Willie Snead and have reported to be connected to free agent Dez Bryant, the Ravens should still look to upgrade the wide receiver room. Ridley is a great route runner with solid hands and a quick release off the line of scrimmage. Some teams might shy away from his slight frame but his playmaking ability speaks for itself.     

 

17) Los Angeles Chargers: OT Connor Williams, Texas

The Chargers need to add to their offensive line to protect Philip Rivers. 2017 draft pick Forrest Lamp is likely to play inside at Guard. Williams is an ideal fit in a zone-blocking scheme and is a great run blocker and also flashes potential as a pass protector. Unfortunately, his thirty-three-inch arms are a concern as defensive lineman will take advantage and get around him.

 

18) Seattle Seahawks: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

The Seahawks have struggled to protect Russell Wilson over the past few seasons and getting a guy like Isaiah Wynn would help out the offensive line big time. Wynn has the versatility to play both tackle and guard. He’s very powerful as a run blocker with the ability to get to the second level and his a great pass protector. This pick will definitely benefit both Wilson and RB Chris Carson, who is returning from injury.

 

19) Dallas Cowboys: DT Taven Bryan, Florida

The Cowboys have not been shy about their love for Taven Bryan. Bryan, Jared Feinberg’s #1 DL, has the quickest first-step out of any of the top defensive lineman. He’s a terrific run stuffer and shows the potential to be a dangerous pass rusher inside not to mention he’s also the most athletic DL. A receiver is definitely an option here but I believe Dallas can strike gold on Day two at the position.

20) Detroit Lions: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Possibly the best man cover corner in this draft, Alexander isn’t being talked about enough. He had an exceptional combine and adds value as a returner on special teams. Alexander needs to let things slow down a bit as he ends up getting a little too aggressive at times when making plays. Detroit should look to add to its secondary and find a consistent starter opposite Darius Slay.

 

21) Cincinnati Bengals (From Buffalo): LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Vontaze Burfict has had trouble staying out of trouble these last few years and Vincent Rey will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Although Linebacker isn’t exactly the most pressing need for the Bengals, Vander Esch makes sense for them. He’s got the ideal build to play the linebacker position and lose hips to change direction with ease.

 

22) Denver Broncos (From Buffalo via Kansas City): WR D.J. Moore, Maryland

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are likely entering the twilight years of their careers, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to the future. Moore is an excellent route runner and has been quietly rising up draft boards over the last few months.

 

23) Indianapolis Colts (From New England via Los Angeles Rams): DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

Patriots get: 2018 first-round pick (6th overall)

Colts get: 2018 first-round picks (23rd and 31st overall)

While Davenport is raw, he’s definitely one of the best edge rushers in the class. Considering the Colts need help on defense, adding to their pass rush helps them rebuild the defensive line which has always been a key to the franchise’s success.

 

24) Carolina Panthers: S Justin Reid, Stanford

When was the last time the Panthers have had an elite safety? Probably never. They now have a need at the position after a good few years of solid production. While Josh Jackson is still on the board here, I believe there is a bigger need at S than CB. Justin Ried can come in and be their top safety as soon as he enters the building. He’s very versatile and has a better skill set than his brother, Eric, coming out of college.

 

25) Tennessee Titans: DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Tennessee has invested into the secondary over the last two offseasons by bringing in guys like Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler. Now, the Titans should turn to investing in their front seven. Payne makes sense for the Titans as Jurrell Casey and Bennie Logan are getting closer to age thirty. His powerful build and natural athleticism are what will catch the attention of teams.

 

26) Atlanta Falcons: DT Maurice Hurst Jr., Michigan

After losing Dontari Poe to their division rival Carolina Panthers, the Falcons now have a big hole at defensive tackle next to Grady Jarrett. While there are medical concerns with him as of late, Maurice Hurst Jr. would be a perfect fit next to Jarrett. Hurst Jr. shows off a quick first step and great hand technique plus the ability to pursuit downhill after the ball carrier.

 

27) New Orleans Saints: QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State.

Drew Brees can’t play forever and the Saints must eventually draft his successor. Mason Rudolph always seems to keep his eyes downfield and shows the ability to win from the pocket. One area where Rudolph has tremendously improved is getting the ball out quicker which has allowed for him to cut his sacks.

 

28) Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

With Ryan Shazier out for the 2018 season, the Steelers need a LB that can come in and play close or at Shazier’s level. Evans is a physical tackler who is always near the ball. I can see him with over 120+ tackles at the next level in his rookie year. Once Shazier returns in 2019, this would be a nasty LB duo.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist University

With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns elsewhere, Blake Bortles needs a new big target to throw to. Courtland Sutton is almost an identical version of ARob. Sutton has the size and enough speed to make defenses pee their pants. Jacksonville could also consider trading down to accumulate more picks.

 

30) Minnesota Vikings: OG Will Hernandez, UTEP

With the retirement of Joe Berger, the Vikings need to address the Guard position. An aggressive player like Hernandez can make his biggest impact in the run game and with Dalvin Cook’s return looming, the Vikings run game could be primed to have a big year in 2018 with the addition of a player like Hernandez.

 

31) Indianapolis Colts (From New England Patriots): OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Patriots get: 2018 first-round pick (6th overall)

Colts get: 2018 first-round picks (23rd and 31st overall)

After the whole Andrew Luck Fiasco, finding someone to protect him should be a priority and not something that the front office merely considers.

 

32) Cleveland Browns (From Philadelphia Eagles): CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

Cleveland gets: First Round (Thirty-two overall)

Philadelphia gets: Second Round (33rd overall and 64th overall)

The Eagles depth is ridiculous, while the Browns should still invest in additional cornerback depth. A trade here allows for Philadelphia to just move one spot down and gain an additional pick, while the Browns get a cornerback who’s biggest attribute is length. In a division where you’ve got to see Antonio Brown and A.J. Green twice a year, having a player like Oliver is not something you think about, it’s something you need to have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *