2018 NFL Mock Draft: Way Too Early Edition

NFL Mock Draft

2018 The Draftster Team Mock Draft

This year TheDraftster will be trying out a new mock draft format. A group of six of our writers will be acting as the GM for various teams, and selecting the player they deem as the best fit based on need. The people making the picks will be Zac Blackerby, Steffen Personette, TJ Randall, Talon Graff, Riley Rogers and myself. While there are only six of us, the draft is set up so that no one has consecutive picks, to avoid bias.

The draft order is set up from power rankings, and once the season is started we will use records accordingly. Each pick will also be accompanied by a short explanation of why each person made the selection. We will do our best to do one of these mock drafts after weeks 4,8,12,16 and post-Super Bowl.

The Draft

1) New York Jets

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Explanation: Quarterback is easily the most important position in football. A top tier quarterback can carry a team from the basement of their division into the playoffs. If Sam Darnold declares he will be the best quarterback in the draft, as of right now. The Jets have invested early picks all over their defense, it is time to invest in a quarterback.

2) San Fransico 49ers

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming 

Explanation: The 49ers are in total rebuild mode and they focused much of their attention on the defense during the 2017 Draft. Six out of their ten draft picks, including their first three, play on the defensive side of the the ball. In 2018 they should start off with a huge splash and pick their potential franchise quarterback in Wyoming’s Josh Allen. There’s a chance Allen returns to school but most likely he will enter the 2018 Draft and if he does, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch bring in their guy.

3) Cleveland Browns

GM: Stephen Personette

Pick: Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Explanation:  With Cleveland officially beginning the DeShon Kizer era and an aging Joe Thomas, the Browns will need to avoid mistakes of years gone by and protect their franchise Quarterback. Adams will be a three-year starter after the 2017 season and has faced elite pass rushers during his time as a Huskie. At 6’7″ 302 Adams has more than adequate height and length for the position. Adams possesses more than just the physical attributes to be a book end tackle in the NFL as he plays with a chip on his shoulder and exemplifies toughness and grit for his position. With a favorable schedule and lack of elite pass rushing talent lining opposite of Adams, he should put together another impressive season for the Huskies.

4) Chicago Bears

GM: Zac Blackerby

Pick: Christian Wilkins, DE, Clemson

Explanation: The Bears spent time last year focusing on their offense last year and will now turn their head to the defensive side of the ball. With Wilkins on the board at four, he could be the best player taken in the whole draft. His size, explosion, and the impact he has on a game are tremendous. Chicago is a team with a lot of needs and Wilkins could address more than one of them with his presence on the defensive front. He should be able to hold his own in both the running game and help contribute to stopping opposing passing attacks.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars

GM: Riley Rogers

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Explanation: Blake Bortles has had plenty of opportunities to show whether or not he is the long term answer in Jacksonville and it looks like the team is sending him a message by letting Chad Henne get the start for week three of the preseason. Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone get a new quarterback in Josh Rosen. Rosen has a quick release and a smooth throwing motion, as well as touch on the short passes and enough velocity to hit a small window downfield. Rosen has the ability to use his legs to pick up first downs but is not a game changing athlete. Also, having Leonard Fournette to hand the ball off to should relieve quite a bit of pressure off a young quarterback.

6) Los Angeles Rams

GM: TJ Randall

Pick: Derwin James, S, FSU

Explanation:  It’s safe to assume that the Rams earning the seventh pick in next April’s draft is a result of their inept offense, likely lead by their equal passing game and porous play up front; hence, a tackle such as Connor Williams or Mike McGlinchey would be a step in the right direction. Conversely, we’ve seen how valuable a talented safety is in Wade Phillips’ defense, and they don’t come much more talented-and versatile-than, James.

Today’s match-up-based NFL is predicated on getting your best athletes in a position to essentially out-athlete those trying to stop them, and James’ blend of athleticism and skill creates quality versatility. He can (legitimately) work in two-high shells, man the center-field, walk down into a Robber role, blitz and offer backside run support off the edge and handle run duties in the box, providing the defense with a jack-of-all-trades chess piece that will Phillips to expand on exotic looks and schemes.

7) Buffalo Bills

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU

Explanation: The Bills sack leader from 2016 is 34-year-old Lorenzo Alexander. In the NFL if you can’t get after the passer you are going to have a serious problem. Key has the length and athleticism to handle playing with a hand in the dirt or standing up. Arden Key isn’t much of a coverage player at LSU, but he has the movement skills to learn. You can’t teach speed, and speed kills.

8) Miami Dolphins

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas 

Explanation: The Dolphins could go a number of different routes here but last year they took Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round. Unfortunately, they lost him to injury already for 2017. They should address another linebacker spot because they could use a lot of upgrades there. Jefferson and McMillan will be a force in the middle of that defense for years to come.

9) Los Angeles Chargers

GM: Stephen Personette


Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Explanation: The Chargers spent two of their first three picks on the offensive line in 2017 but a hole remains at both tackle positions. With Melvin Gordon expecting a big year and Philip River entering the twilight of his career, the Chargers will need to take a page out of the Cowboys playbook and build from the inside out. McGlinchey enters the season as a two-year starter in South Bend and is one of the more consistent linemen in the country. His 2017 schedule is chalk full of elite pass rushers including Georgia, Boston College, USC, Wake Forest and Miami.

10) New Orleans Saints

GM: Zac Blackerby

Pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Explanation: Fitzpatrick needs to be a top ten pick. His ability to cover space on the tail end of the defense could place him at the top of the country.  Paired with his speed and ability to hit, he will stand out in every game on a loaded defensive roster for the Crimson Tide. With New Orleans struggling on defense for several years, Fitzpatrick instantly becomes one of their best players on the defensive side of the football.

11) Cincinnati Bengals

GM: Riley Rogers

Pick: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Explanation: The Cincinnati Bengals lost multiple pieces of an above average offensive line last offseason and the remaining offensive line could use an upgrade. The Bengals invested heavy in 2015 with their first two picks being used on offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. Neither one of these two has lived up to the potential. Offensive tackle Connor Williams will be able to step in and immediately upgrade this offensive line. Williams is a mauling run blocker who shows is also an excellent pass blocker. He shows great balance and redirect on his pass protection. Williams’s aggressive, mauling run blocking style should help Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, and Giovanni Bernard find space to run as well as take pressure off Andy Dalton in the passing game.

12) Baltimore Ravens

GM: TJ Randall

Pick: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Explanation: This Ravens offense struggled in both facets of offense in 2016 and there are very new faces in 2017, so it’s unreasonable to think this unit will make the necessary strides in just a year. Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead are both talented backs who also provide a serious receiving threat in the passing game, but they simply aren’t feature backs let alone quality ones that also aren’t found on this Raven’s depth chart. Enter Guice, the ball carrier who some project will be better than his predecessor, Leonard Fournette, and possesses ultimate plug-and-play capabilities. He’s a creative runner who can layer runs with manipulative head and shoulder fakes as well as a physical, competitive runner with space-clearing cuts and the desire to punish defenders in his wake. Most importantly, Guice has displayed the skills in the passing game as both a receiver and pass protector to suggest he will quickly become a complete, three-down back at the next level.

13) Washington Redskins

GM: Stephen Personette

Pick: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Explanation: Perhaps the worst kept secret in all the NFL is that Kurt Cousins will not be back as a Washington Redskin in 2018. With Washington now on the hunt for their future franchise QB, Jackson’s upside is too enticing to pass up. Jackson has put up all type of numbers throughout his career at Louisville and the 2016 Heisman trophy winner will be the favorite to repeat in 2017. If Jackson can improve while working in the pocket he will climb up draft boards entering the 2018 draft.

14) Detroit Lions

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Harold Landry, Defensive End, Boston College

Explanation: Ziggy Ansah finally gets the running mate he’s so sorely needed. Landry plays with his hand in the dirt for the Eagles right now and can do the same for the Lions at the next level. Ansah and Landry would form a rushing tandem for a team that faces Aaron Rodgers twice a year. 

15) Indianapolis Colts

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Explanation: If the quarterback is the most important position in football, then keeping the quarterback upright has to be one of the most important jobs. The Colts have had a consistent problem keeping Andrew Luck upright, and he currently has an injured shoulder. If the Colts want to keep Luck from an early retirement then they will invest in keeping him healthy.

16) Minnesota Vikings

GM: Riley Rogers

Pick: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

Explanation: Xavier Rhodes has proven to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL but the cornerback spot opposite Rhodes has yet to be decided. Terence Newman has found the fountain of youth in Minnesota but the 38-year-old will not be able to play forever. Trae Waynes has yet to show why the Vikings invested the 11th overall pick on him in 2015. Tarvarus McFadden is one of the best cornerbacks in college football and has the size that Mike Zimmer loves in his corners. McFadden stands 6-foot-2 and has all of the athletic tools needed to play at the next level. He needs to be more physical at the line of scrimmage but with his ball skills, he should hear his name called early in the draft.

17) Carolina Panthers

GM: Zac Blackerby

Pick: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Explanation: Chubb may be one of the most undervalued players in college football season as the 2017 season begins. His well rounded ability to be a consistent presence on the edge on a lesser defense is commendable and his ability to be unblockable at times will blow away NFL scouts. The Panthers reached the Super Bowl two seasons ago due to their defense’s front seven. If they want to get back, they know they’ll need more position players like Chubb to have an impact along the defensive front.

18) Philadelphia Eagles

GM: Stephen Personette

Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State

Explanation:  With the Eagles set at quarterback for the next 10-12 years, its time to add talent around Carson Wentz. Barkley might be the most talented back in this draft and the Eagles would be thrilled to fill their need at running back with the local product. Barkley is on Heisman trophy watch as Penn State will lean on his legs in hopes of a National Championship run. If Barkley can continue to work on his pass catching ability and pass blocking he should be a top 25 pick in the draft.

19) Cleveland Browns (Via Houston)

GM: TJ Randall

Pick: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Explanation: If the franchise can manage to keep him upright, DeShone Kizer is Cleveland’s quarterback of the future-and it appears to be a very bright future. Therefore, he needs a quality supporting cast. Having taken a tackle with their third pick that could likely overtake the starting job on the right side or be groomed to replace Joe Thomas on the other side, Kizer unquestionably needs aid in the form of pass catchers. Sutton is a big-bodied, wide-framed receiver whose game is built on boxing out defenders at the intermediate level, but has also shown that he can attack defenses down the field as an accuracy-eraser. He’s cut from the Josh Gordon and Mike Evans cloth as ideal-sized perimeter threats who can work all levels of the field and provide their quarterback with a dependable target in critical situations.

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Jaire Alexander, Cornerback, Louisville

Explanation: Brent Grimes will be a free agent after the 2017 season and even if he returns to the Bucs, he will be 35 before training camp starts. Tampa drafted Vernon Hargreaves in the first round of 2016 and they grab Alexander in 2018 to upgrade a secondary that has to defend Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees.

21) Tennessee Titans

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Derrick Nnandi

Explanation: The Titans have proven that they want to build their team from the inside out. They have invested heavily in their offensive line, now it’s time to find a running mate for Jurrell Casey. DaQuon Jones can hold down the middle while Casey and Nnandi man the outside. That front three would afford even more room to Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

22) New York Giants

GM: Zac Blackerby

Pick: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Explanation: Is this pick boring? Yes. Does it make sense? We think so. Hyatt’s draft stock has been discussed since he started as a true freshman at Clemson a few years ago. Now, he appears to be a lock for a top round pick. The Giants have a lot going for them on offense but an NFL team can never have enough solid offensive lineman. Hyatt will be able to help Eli Manning finish his career with no major injuries and help out an offense that could be a scary one for defenses over the next few seasons.

23) Arizona Cardinals

GM: Riley Rogers

Pick: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Explanation: Bruce Arians had high praise for his wide receivers in the spring, but that quickly faded during training camp when he said, “I must’ve been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had had 12 guys who could play in the NFL. We might have two.” Larry Fitzgerald is entering the final season of his contract and sounds like this may be his final season. Losing Fitzgerald would slow down this offense significantly. Calvin Ridley would be an immediate upgrade to a struggling receiver corps. Ridley is an explosive athlete and is a vertical threat with his speed.  He is not just an explosive athlete, Ridley has the ability to run every route in the route tree and shows sure hands. Ridley has a chance to be one of the top receivers in the draft.

24) Denver Broncos

GM: Stephen Personette

Pick: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Explanation:  With Denver attempting to rebuild the offensive talent, having a player like James Washington fall to the 25th pick would be an absolute steal. Entering the 2017 season, Washington leads all active FBS players with 26 touchdown receptions.  Washington does a great job of locating the football in the air and adjusting to make the play. If Washington can improve his route running he could secure his spot as the number one wide receiver in the 2018 class.

25) Buffalo Bills(Via Chiefs)

GM: TJ Randall

Pick: : Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Explanation: The Bills have gutted their receiving depth in a matter of weeks and it’s becoming increasingly easier to believe Tyrod Taylor will be dealt sometime before next April, so don’t rule out a quarterback. Buffalo spent a second-rounder on Zay Jones last season and traded for Jordan Matthews, but there isn’t much talent behind them. Kirk is an electrifying playmaker who can affect the game on offense and as a punt returner, a dangerous slot man who can thrive as an extension of the run game and attack every level of the field without hesitation. The addition of Kirk would undoubtedly complement the skill sets that Jones and Matthews bring to the table. With a dominant, exotic run game already in place, expect the Bills to get creative with Kirk and manufacture quality touches to expand on their offensive possibilities.

26) Oakland Raiders

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Marcus Allen, Safety, Penn State

Explanation: Oakland’s biggest weakness is arguably the secondary. They drafted Obi Melifonwu but he will be used as a linebacker/defensive back hybrid similar to the way Deone Bucannon is used in Arizona. They need to get someone else that can make plays from the back end with Karl Joseph. Who better than Marcus Allen? The Raiders nab another star that happens to share the same name as one of their greatest playmakers ever.

27) Dallas Cowboys

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Josh Sweat, DE, FSU

Explanation: The Dallas Cowboys have a problem getting to the passer. David Irving looked solid a season ago, but he has a tendency to get suspended. A suspension for PEDs after a breakout is frightening, you have to ask if the PED caused the breakout. Josh Sweat can immediately come in and play at the defensive end position with 2017 draft pick Taco Charleton.

28) Green Bay Packers

GM: Riley Rogers

Pick: Tyquan Lewis, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Explanation: The Packers had a major need in the 2016 NFL Draft that was never addressed, pass rush. Clay Matthews is not getting any younger and he is in desperate need of some pass rush help. The depleted Packers secondary did not help this issue either. Tyquan Lewis would fit as a DE or OLB in this scheme. He is a good athlete who shows excellent bend and flexibility around the edge. He still has things to improve on like adding more pass rush moves and a quicker get-off. Lewis flashes the pass rushing talent to be considered for a top pick but will need to become more consistent before that will happen.

29) Pittsburgh Steelers

GM: TJ Randall

Pick: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

Explanation: An uber-talented team the Steelers have very weaknesses and this pick will likely be treated as a best-player-available over one of need, particularly with the addition of T.J. Watt in the 2017 draft. The Steelers already possess the league’s most lethal group of playmakers, but why not add another? Andrews is a flexible option who fits the new mold of move-tight ends that can work inline, as a wing option and in the slot, and would provide Ben Roethlisberger would yet another threatening pass-catcher due to Andrews’ natural skills as a receiver and his catch-and-run ability; Andrews has also displayed his competency as a blocker in both the running and passing game. He would provide an immediate upgrade over incumbent Jesse James and assist in the extension of Roethlisberger’s career.

30) Seattle Seahawks

GM: Austin Horn

Pick: Billy Price, G, Ohio State

Explanation: Billy Price would be an investment in keeping Russell Wilson healthy. Price would also do his fair share in opening rushing lanes. Everyone knows that when the Seahawks can run the ball their offense becomes deadly. The problem is that the Seahawks have invested next to nothing in their offensive line, that needs to change soon. They have next to no depth, and there is very little offensive line depth in the NFL as a whole.

31) Atlanta Falcons

GM: Talon Graff

Pick: Tony Brown, Cornerback, Alabama

Explanation: The Falcons are just a piece or two away from having an elite defense. They add one of those pieces by grabbing Tony Brown. The Bama corner has a history off field issues but if he can keep his nose clean this year he may go a lot earlier. However, at this point in time Brown is a borderline first rounder and if he does fall to the Falcons then they will jump at the opportunity to add a tough defender who will add an edge to their defense.

32) New England Patriots

GM: Zac Blackerby

Pick: Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn

Explanation: When we did this mock draft, this pick surprised several people. Davis had a stellar freshman campaign and will look to replicate that production as a junior. Last year, Davis played through injury. This year he has made it clear that he is finally at full health again. The Patriots have no issue reaching for players and Davis is a guy some project to climb draft boards this season. Davis has the length, ability, and mindset to hear his name called early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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