2018 NFL Draft: Mock Draft Version 1.0
Dom Murtha is moving the calendar forward to the upcoming NFL Draft and telling you how he currently sees all 32 first-round picks playing out in 2018.
What a Super Bowl, what a season… A lot more can be said in terms of putting a bow on things, but chances are that the only ones who would care to read it are still partying in the streets of Philly. Those actually reading this article are ready to turn their calendars and focus squarely on the upcoming NFL Draft.
This is my 1.0 version, which will feature no trades and is more geared to give the masses an idea of what teams need and how they are looking to fit players into their schemes. Now, without further ado… The 2018 NFL Draft.
1: Cleveland Browns | Sam Darnold | QB | USC |
Cleveland has been looking for their signal calling savior since, well, forever… Darnold’s size, arm, instincts, and leadership make him the top quarterback in this class, which makes him a no brainer pick for the forever-suffering Browns. Don’t let draft community fatigue throw you off about Darnold’s ability and worthiness as the number one overall pick, as we have seen the same thing happen year in and year out. Joey Bosa, Jameis Winston, and Jadeveon Clowney, are names that come to mind, and we saw how they all turned out…
2: New York Giants | Josh Rosen | QB | UCLA |
Rosen was one of the rare quarterback prospects that I felt could be an NFL starter coming out of high school. His footwork is the most natural I’ve seen since Andrew Luck, while his mechanics under center make him appear as though he was born with a football in his hands. The kid is just natural and when provided with a clean pocket will make the right decision and throw 10-out-of-10 times. The only thing holding him back is his less than ideal decision making when the play goes off script. Collapsing NFL pockets may give him trouble early on. Expect him to take some time to learn under Eli Manning when 2018 kicks off.
3: Indianapolis Colts | Saquon Barkley | RB | Penn State |
When trying to come up with a comparison for Barkely, I had to leave the realm of professional football. After long deliberation, eventually I decided on Boobie Miles, famous from the movie “Friday Night Lights.” While you are likely laughing right now, questioning my credibility as a talent evaluator, understand that he is truly the only player I could compare Barkley to. He’s big, strong, explosive, and incredibly elusive. He has the top end speed to breakaway from any defender, while his patience in the backfield keeps any busted play alive. His ability to make defenders miss is top notch, on a level that I haven't seen since Reggie Bush. He also can catch the ball out of the backfield better than any other back in this class, making him a well-rounded, can’t miss, prospect. Just imagine what he and Andrew Luck can do together for years to come...
4: Cleveland Browns (via HOU) | Minkah Fitzpatrick | CB/S | Alabama |
By my eye, Fitzpatrick is the most talented defensive player in this draft, not only due to his versatility, but mainly because of his combination of traits and production. While he’s not exactly the athlete of Jalen Ramsey, that is who I am constantly reminded of when watching Fitzpatrick’s tape. Considering that, I would play him as an outside corner – despite his lack of ample experience at the position – just like the Jags did with Ramsey, however the reality is that wherever played, Fitz will be transformative to this emerging Browns defense.
5: Denver Broncos | Quenton Nelson | OG | Notre Dame |
It’s always nice when a team is able to get the best player in the draft five picks later than they should. Nelson is massive (6-foot-5, 330 lbs.), mean, talented, and technical. He’s drawn comparisons to Cowboys Hall of Famer Larry Allen, and while that expectation is quite lofty, I honestly would be shocked if he wasn’t a perennial All-Pro, starting in his rookie year. He’s the can’t miss prospect in this draft, which is great for any team, but particularly great for a Broncos team that needs some serious interior offensive line help.
6: New York Jets | Baker Mayfield | QB | Oklahoma |
The Jets have needed a franchise quarterback since they realized that Mark Sanchez couldn’t throw without the deception of play action. In Mayfield they may be getting the most accurate passer in the draft. While some question his transition to the pros coming from a spread offense in college, the only real question I have for Baker lies in his ability to hold up physically. He’s undersized for the position, not just in height, but in build too. He benefited from an elite offensive line in college, and seemed to struggle when faced with NFL level pass rushes. The fact of the matter is though that his is a talent that the Jets can’t afford to pass up.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Bradley Chubb | Edge | N.C. State |
The Buccaneers had the worst pass rush in football last season. What better way to remedy that issue than to draft the best edge rusher in the class? Getting Chubb would be nothing less than a steal here at seven, so let the Bucs fans rejoice...
8: Chicago Bears | Calvin Ridley | WR | Alabama |
After drafting their franchise quarterback in the first round last offseason, the Bears know that they must now build around him. Ridley is the best receiver in the draft, as he combines savvy route running, sure hands, and elite deep threat ability as his main traits.
9: San Francisco 49ers | Denzel Ward | CB | Ohio State |
Despite his less than ideal frame (5-foot-11, 191 lbs.), Ward has all of the traits of a shutdown corner. On tape he is an in-your-face mirror to opposing wideouts, while his elite speed and ball skills help him make up for any rare mistake he may make. Considering the Niners lack of players of his ilk in their secondary, Ward makes for a great selection at number nine.
10: Oakland Raiders | Roquan Smith | LB | Georgia |
In terms of talent, Smith is the best linebacker in the draft. He scrapes the field sideline to sideline with ease, while his instincts for finding the football are elite. He can cover, he can play downhill in the run game, and he can get after the quarterback. His only downside is a smaller than ideal build (6-foot-1, 225 lbs.). Playing next to NaVorro Bowman should hide that minor malady.
11: Miami Dolphins | Tremaine Edmunds | LB | Virginia Tech |
Edmunds is a massive (6-foot-5, 250 lbs.), rangy, linebacker who can play all three positions in the group. For the Dolphins he will come in as the man in the middle, immediately transforming their defense as the signal calling mike linebacker. His generational traits are the kind that you build an entire defense around.
12: Cincinnati Bengals | Connor Williams | OT | Texas |
The Bengals really suffered after losing Andrew Whitworth this past offseason, so it is no surprise to see offensive line as their top priority entering this offseason. Williams is the most talented offensive tackle prospect in the draft, while if necessary he can learn the NFL game as a guard early on. With the current state of the Bengals offensive line however, Williams should have no problem locking down a starting tackle spot coming out of camp.
13: Washington Redskins | Vita Vea | NT | Washington |
The Redskins really suffered in the run game this past season, making it clear rather early on that they need an upgrade along their defensive line. Pound for pound, Vea is probably the most talented athlete in the entire draft, as he can do at 350 lbs what some struggle to do at 250. He’s explosive, twitchy, and instinctual, which is how he beats offensive linemen, while his sheer size is what helps him clog up the middle when asked to do so. He will plug and play as the nose in this Redskins 3-4 base, however if needed he has the talent to play at the five-technique as well.
14: Green Bay Packers | Josh Jackson | CB | Iowa |
Jackson has scouts rather split. On the one hand he provided incredible ball production last season with a nation leading 26 pass breakups and eight interceptions. On the other hand he was a one year wonder and on tape displayed no willingness to contribute in the run game. Ultimately his production, size, and upside will get him into the top-15 of this draft, giving the Packers a talented player at a position of need.
15: Arizona Cardinals | Lamar Jackson | QB | Louisville |
With three quarterbacks going pretty early in this one, the Cardinals are backed into a corner. Here they pull the trigger on one of the most controversial players in the draft – not Josh Allen, but Lamar Jackson. On the field, I personally see a clone of Michael Vick in Jackson, which, say what you want, will make him a successful NFL quarterback for years to come. The combination of Jackson under center and the returning of David Johnson in the backfield will bring the Cardinals immediately back to relevance in the playoff picture next season.
16: Baltimore Ravens | Christian Kirk | WR | Texas A&M |
With the Ravens missing out on Calvin Ridley – the number one receiver in the draft – they will turn their attention elsewhere. Behind Ridley, there is a lot of dispute who the number two receiver in this class is. I see it more as a “pick your flavor” group, which is what makes Kirk and Baltimore a match at 16. Kirk is an excellent route runner with rare suddenness in his footwork. With the ball in his hands he is as lethal as anyone in the game today (think of Odell Beckham). While he’s undersized at just 5-foot-11, his aforementioned traits are exactly what this Baltimore offense has been lacking for some time.
17: Los Angeles Chargers | Josh Allen | QB | Wyoming |
This is the logical floor for Florida State strong safety Derwin James, however I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers too passed on him, provided Josh Allen was still available. Allen has all of the tools that you would want for a future franchise quarterback. Only problem is that he’s not ready to start. At 36-years old, Philip Rivers is no spring chicken, which makes it logical that the Chargers would be looking for his eventual replacement.
18: Seattle Seahawks | Isaiah Wynn | OG/OT | Georgia |
With Russell Wilson last year accounting for over 85-percent of the offensive production, it is time that Seattle changes their philosophy – they are no longer a team built around defense. Considering that, it is time for the Seahawks to start building around their franchise quarterback. Their offensive line was laughable last season to the point that people were beginning to worry about Wilson’s well-being. Outside of Quenton Nelson, Wynn is the most well-rounded lineman in this draft, while his position versatility will be a key get for this downtrodden Seattle OL group. He can start immediately at left guard in place of the soon departing Luke Joeckel, and if needed he can kick out to right tackle if they eventually feel that Germain Ifedi’s best position is inside at guard.
19: Dallas Cowboys | Derwin James | SS | Florida State |
Candidates for the Cowboys here could be at the DT, WR, LB, and OG positions, but the fact of the matter is that when a generational talent slides this far, needs can often go out the window. James is a transcendent box safety, drawing comparisons to Kam Chancellor and Eric Berry. While the Cowboys are young and upcoming in the secondary, adding James will not complicate things. Plug him in at strong safety and let the rest figure itself out. Byron Jones can move to corner if they would like, while Chido Awuzie or Xavier Woods can plug in at free safety if they so desire.
20: Detroit Lions | Da’Ron Payne | DT | Alabama |
With the Lions slated to move to a base 3-4 defense this upcoming season after the hiring of Matt Patricia as their new head coach, a run stuffing nose tackle becomes a must for their roster. Payne may just be the best player in the draft when considering that as your number one trait, while his versatility along the interior will wet the whistle of Patricia, who likes to implement multiple fronts based on weekly matchups.
21: Buffalo Bills | Billy Price | C | Ohio State |
After the sudden retirement of Eric Wood, center moved to the forefront of the Bills draft needs for this offseason. In Price they will be getting the best one in the draft, while his versatility to also play guard still makes him a sound selection if the Bills choose to fill their center void in free agency.
22: Buffalo Bills (via KC) | Marcus Davenport | Edge | UTSA |
After filling an imperative need with their first pick, the Bills are benefited with the ability to make an upside selection here. Davenport, at a massive 6-foot-6, fits the perfect build of an edge player in Buffalo’s recently implemented 4-3 base defense.
23: Los Angeles Rams | Mike McGlinchey | OT | Notre Dame |
While the Rams offensive line was excellent this past season, it is not exactly a group that is getting any younger. Particularly Andrew Whitworth is aging rapidly – though you wouldn’t have noticed it last year – which makes adding an offensive lineman pivotal in the draft this offseason. In McGlinchey the Rams can fulfill the ideal scenario by letting him learn as a starting guard this upcoming season, while he will serve as the eventual replacement at left tackle for Whitworth when he inevitably retires within the next few years.
24: Carolina Panthers | Will Hernandez | OG | UTEP |
With All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell slated to walk this offseason, the Panthers should waste no time in finding his replacement. Hernandez is one of the biggest players in the draft, and at 6-foot-2, 350 lbs., he plays like it. He’s rock solid in pass protection and is reminiscent of a snow plow in the run game. He should immediately impact this offensive line, while he features All-Pro upside in his own right.
25: Tennessee Titans | Sam Hubbard | Edge | Ohio State |
With new head coach Mike Vrabel coming in, he is going to want to add talent and depth to this underwhelming Titans pass rush. Like Vrabel did as a player, Sam Hubbard has a relentless motor that knows no off switch. He’s likely not a double-digit sack guy every season, but his motor, alongside Jurrell Casey, and opposite Brian Orakpo, should vastly improve the team’s overall pass rush, almost instantly.
26: Atlanta Falcons | Maruice Hurst | DT | Michigan |
With Dontari Poe likely departing this offseason, the Falcons would ideally draft his successor in the first round. The draft doesn’t always work out how you want it to though, therefore Atlanta may have to change their plans a bit. Hurst is a really nice player. In fact, when used correctly schematically, he has a chance to be one of the most disruptive players in the draft. For the purposes of Atlanta though, it is a bit problematic that Hurst possesses strictly the skillset of a penetrating three-technique – a position already manned and mastered by Grady Jarrett. In this selection, the Falcons compromise and decide to get the two talented players on the field. Hurst slots in as the three-tech, while Jarrett kicks back over to the nose – a position that he also excelled at earlier on in his career.
27: New Orleans Saints | Harold Landry | Edge | Boston College |
While the Saints defense drastically improved this season in comparison to the last decade or so, the fact still remains that they need a lot of help opposite Cameron Jordan. The addition of Landry would not only provide the Saints just what they need in that regard, but it also will improve the entire defensive line. With Landry slotting in at right end, Sheldon Rankins will be kicked back inside to defensive tackle – his best and most natural position. This move upgrades two positions with one pick; can’t ask for much more than that.
28: Pittsburgh Steelers | Rashaan Evans | LB | Alabama |
It’s no secret that the future of Ryan Shazier’s football career is up in the air at the moment. Considering that, as sad as it is to come to terms with, linebacker has to be the number one draft priority for the Steelers this offseason. Evans is not only the best linebacker still available, but his common pro comparison to Lawrence Timmons makes him a perfect plug and play fit in this Steelers base defense.
29: Jacksonville Jaguars | Dallas Goedert | TE | South Dakota State |
If the Jags are going to roll with Blake Bortles, then they need to fully commit by building around him. With a decent wide receiver corps and intimidating run game, tight end becomes the most logical spot to upgrade. Many agree that Goedert is the most talented tight end in this class, despite the fact that he played lower competition at South Dakota State. On film he displays a flair for the spectacular with his one-handed grabs and leaping ability at 6-foot-5, but what is equally as impressive is his commitment to the run game as a blocker. This kid has Pro Bowl potential.
30: Minnesota Vikings | Orlando Brown | OT | Oklahoma |
Truth be told, the Vikings don’t have many holes. With a gun to my head I would say that they could use the most help in shoring up their offensive line, which makes Brown the most logical pick here. He can start from day one at right tackle, while Mike Remmers can kick inside to guard – a position he was playing during the Vikings most recent playoff game.
31: New England Patriots | Isaiah Oliver | CB | Colorado |
If 373 passing yards allowed to a backup quarterback in the Super Bowl wasn’t enough of a wakeup call, I don’t know what is… The Pats need some serious help in the secondary. This is especially true when considering the fact that they are likely to lose former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler this offseason as well. In Oliver the Patriots get themselves a former track star who should have no problems sticking with any NFL receiver on deep routes. His long and lean frame makes him the perfect archetype for a jamming press corner who also possesses the foot finesse and leaping ability of a baiting ball hawk.
32: Philadelphia Eagles | Mike Hughes | CB | Central Florida |
The deteriorating health and ever-advancing age of left tackle Jason Peters makes an offensive lineman Philly’s number one draft need this offseason, but with most of the day one starters already off the board, they turn their attention to their second most important need – the secondary. While the Eagles have some good players on the back end – some of whom have been drafted rather highly in recent years – during the Super Bowl this past Sunday, it was pretty clear that they still need more help in that area (allowed Tom Brady to pass for 505 yards and three touchdowns). In Hughes the Eagles get a raw, inexperienced corner, but one who has excellent traits in both the pass and run game. If nothing else, his prowess as a return man will provide the Super Bowl champs an immediate impact from their first round selection.